Radio producer

Milton Keynes charity pays tribute to ‘larger than life’ BBC radio producer on first anniversary of his death

A charity in Milton Keynes has paid tribute to the ‘larger than life’ BBC radio producer who died exactly a year ago today (March 3).

Brain Tumor Research, which is based in Shenley Wood, pays tribute to Simon Willis, of Aspley Guise.

Simon died from an aggressive and incurable brain tumor. He was best known for working with some of the best broadcasters in the world.

Simon with his wife Hayley, photo by Brain Tumor Research

He has worked with Zoe Ball, Jo Whiley, Simon Mayo and the late Terry Wogan.

The accomplished producer died after surgery for glioblastoma (GMB), aged 51, leaving behind two children Bevan and Honor, who were then 13 and 9 respectively.

Simon was a strong supporter of Brain Tumor Research and participated with his children in the charity’s Walk of Hope in 2019.

Jo Whiley and Simon Willis, photo by Brain Tumor Research

Jo Whiley, who is Bevan’s godmother, while Simon was godfather to all his children, said: “It’s been a year since we said goodbye to Simon.

“Our dearest friend, the light of our lives and the butt of all family jokes. We miss him every second of every hour of every day and life without him seems darker and heavier.

“Simon was so brave throughout his illness. There was no self-pity. He fought his brain tumor – with humor and strength – so he could be there for his children and his family for as long as possible.

“Throughout his treatment – which was incredibly difficult – he raised funds and awareness for Brain Tumor Awareness and I owe it to him to ask all of you to support Brain Tumor Research this Brain Tumor Awareness Month. brain tumors and bring us closer to defeating this terrible disease.”

Simon with his two children Hope and Bevan during the 2019 Hope Walk, photo by Brain Tumor Research

Hayley, Simon’s widow, described him as a larger than life character and a devoted father.

The 51-year-old was diagnosed after an MRI on Christmas Eve 2017, after a year of symptoms including fatigue and confusion.

He was admitted to Milton Keynes Hospital as they feared he was having a seizure due to the size of the mass and the swelling around it and was put on steroids.

Simon underwent surgery early in the new year at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. On his birthday, January 30, he receives histology results: he has a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma.

The late, beloved BBC producer with his children, photo by Brain Tumor Research

After the craniotomy, Simon underwent grueling radiation and chemotherapy.

A Brain Tumor Research spokesperson said: “In March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic properly hit, Hayley noticed that Simon hadn’t understood how serious it was and wasn’t taking any action. precautions.

“Towards the end of the year, Simon had become quite lively, which was not in his character.

“A scan revealed the tumor was growing back and he underwent further surgery on the tumor which had progressed to glioblastoma (GBM) in January 2021 but never really recovered. Simon appeared very confused, although he had moments of lucidity.

“When his behavior became increasingly confused over the course of a week and it became apparent that his head was swelling, he had another ultrasound and a blood clot was found. Simon was put on blood thinners .”

Hayley said: “At 5am on March 3, 2021 I received a call to say Simon had passed away. Apparently he got up to go to the bathroom and the clot moved and that was it.

Brain tumors are blind and can affect anyone at any age.

Charlie Allsebrook, Community Development Manager at Brain Tumor Research, said: “Our thoughts are with Simon’s family and friends, especially today.

“Simon’s story reminds us that only 12.5% ​​of people diagnosed with a brain tumor survive beyond five years, compared to an average of 50% for all cancers.

“We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue. Brain tumor research is committed to changing outcomes for brain tumor patients and ultimately finding a cure.”

Brain Tumor Awareness Month culminates each year with Wear a Hat Day on March 25, 2022 to benefit brain tumor research.

Brain Tumor Research funds sustainable research across the UK.

He also campaigns for the government and major cancer charities to invest more in brain tumor research to speed up new treatments for patients and ultimately find a cure.

The charity is calling for a national annual expenditure of £35m to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukemia and is also campaigning to greater reuse of drugs.