Charity founder is ‘inspired’ by patients

A Whitehead woman’s commitment to championing the cause of brain tumour research has been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Kate Ferguson, Honorary Secretary of Brainwaves NI, is to receive an MBE. It follows two decades working with the charity, which she helped found after her husband Billy was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1990.

Kate Ferguson is to receive an MBE for her charity work with Brainwaves NI. INCT -02-001-PSB

Kate Ferguson is to receive an MBE for her charity work with Brainwaves NI. INCT -02-001-PSB

“We discovered that there was no information or support and with others decided that there was a need for a charity to offer this help for patients and their carers,” said Kate.

Based at Cable Road in Whitehead, Brainwaves NI is overseen by a committee of eleven people, all of whom are volunteers. It offers information and support and organises counselling and social activities, for example, taking 106 patients to Londonderry in September for a weekend break and also organised a conference this year at Queen’s University.

“Generally speaking people feel at a loss and despair on the diagnosis of brain tumour and they need as much information but they also need emotional support and we will offer this as long as necessary, in fact many of our members are long-term members of our charity,” added Kate.

“Brain tumours can affect any age group - 16,000 are diagnosed each year. Because we receive no statutory funding or grants we rely entirely on the families or friends of the charity for support.”

Brainwaves NI supports local research at the Centre of Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast.

“We cover all of Northern Ireland but should anyone contact us, we will never turn them away, we will offer them whatever help they need. ”

The charity is a member of Brain Tumour Research which raises the profile of and funding for research in the UK to improve the outcomes for patients. A determination to see this realised and inspiration from patients, families and supporters underpins Kate’s enthusiasm for the role.

“That’s what keeps you going in a charity, you meet the most wonderful people in the most difficult of situations.”

Fundraising continues with a vintage tractor event planned for July. “We are hoping this will be one of our largest ever fundraising event.”

Mother of Clare and Ruairi, Kate is proud that her grandchildren have run mini-marathons in support of Brainwaves NI, but is keen to acknowledge everyone involved with the organisation.

“This award is many ways I hope recognises all of the brain tumour community” and if it can raise the profile of our charity that would be wonderful.”

Brainwaves NI can be contacted on 028 9335 3995 or email