The birthday of a Catholic mum who died from a brain tumour was marked by a mass skydive to raise funds to help find a cure for the disease.
Sue Blasotta, of Palmers Green, a passionate fundraiser, who undertook a skydive herself before she learnt she had brain cancer, died at the age of 42 just six weeks after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour.
Determined to keep her memory alive, her father, nephew, a sister and a brother-in-law were among 51 friends and relatives taking part in an epic skydive on Sunday 17th March – one for each year she would have been celebrating.
Mum-of-two Sue was the eldest daughter of David Taylor of Winchmore Hill in North London, a former Grand President of the Catenian Association, who set up the charity In Sue’s Name, a member charity of the Brain Tumour Research charity.
All of the patrons of In Sue’s Name are Catholics, including the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon.
Before the skydive, In Sue’s Name had raised more than £190,000 since it launched a campaign in 2017 to raise £1 million to support vital research into brain tumours at Brain Tumour Research’s Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London.
At 77, Mr Taylor was the oldest of the skydivers who jumped from 13,000 feet and went into freefall for 15 seconds over Hinton Aerodrome near Brackley in Northamptonshire before deploying his parachute. The youngest taking part was Sue’s nephew Jack Rydqvist, 18.
Other family members who took part included Sue’s sister Angie Taylor, 48, who flew over from the United States, and Sue’s brother-in-law, Craig Rydqvist, father of Jack, as well as parishioners from St Monica’s Catholic Church in Palmers Green, attended by Mr Taylor (and formerly by Sue), some of whom also have family members of their own affected by a brain tumour diagnosis.
The original idea for the skydive fundraising challenge came from Mr Taylor’s BNI Networking group of which 25 members also took part in the epic jump in Sue’s memory. The 51 skydivers had a collective target to raise £40,000 to help fund a research student at Queen Mary University of London, which they have already exceeded, bringing the total raised to over £225,000 – a quarter of the way towards the £1million in just two years.
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Mr Taylor said: “It’s not a typical activity for a retiree. I was terrified! My daughter did a skydive five years before she died and she was equally terrified. But she still did it and said she would do it again.
“It has been my faith which has comforted me in the dark times and inspired me to continue Sue’s legacy and of course the wonderful support I have from St Monica’s.
“The important thing is to raise awareness and funds for research. Less than 20 per cent of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years as compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers. We have to do something to change this.”
Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research said: “No parent should have to lose a child to this most awful disease. No family should have to suffer the heartbreak of losing a loved one.
“The partnership with In Sue’s Name is helping fund vital research into brain tumours and we won’t give up the fight until we have improved outcomes for patients and their loved ones. We have to find a cure.”
To make a donation see: www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/skydiveforsue
For more information see: www.insuesname.org
Picture: David Taylor skydiving.