Proud day for family as lab opens

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THE family of a girl who died of a brain tumour have told of their pride after a laboratory was named in her honour.

As previously reported in The News, Alison Phelan was just seven when she died in 2001.

Professor Geoff Pilkington (left), with Graham Phelan and his mum Julie Phelan at Portsmouth University's new brain tumour laboratory which has been named after Julies daughter Alison Phelan who died from a brain tumour.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123549-1)

Professor Geoff Pilkington (left), with Graham Phelan and his mum Julie Phelan at Portsmouth University's new brain tumour laboratory which has been named after Julies daughter Alison Phelan who died from a brain tumour.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123549-1)

Her mum Julie and aunt Sue Farrington Smith vowed they would help find a way to track the spread of the disease and research into whether it could be cured.

That aim came a step closer yesterday with the opening of the laboratory at the University of Portsmouth’s school of pharmacy and biomedical sciences.

Visitors clapped as a pink ribbon was cut at the entrance of the Alison Phelan Memorial Laboratory at the building, in White Swan Road, Southsea.

Alison’s name is displayed on a sign above the entrance of the lab, where experts will look closely at how the disease spreads and if a cure can be found.

Alison Phelan, who died of a brain tumour aged seven

Alison Phelan, who died of a brain tumour aged seven

Mrs Phelan, 49, of Harrow, said: ‘It’s an emotional but proud day for the family.

‘It’s a massive honour and such a privilege that the university has named a laboratory after Alison.

‘It is our wish to find a cure and I’m sure Alison would be looking down and thinking the same.’

Mrs Farrington Smith, of Padbury, Buckinghamshire, helped to set up charity Ali’s Dream with the family after the schoolgirl’s death.

It has raised money towards the treatment of people with brain tumours through a range of activities including 10k walks, abseils, clay pigeon shooting and selling Christmas cards. Mrs Farrington Smith is now the head of Brain Tumour Research and it has put £75,000 towards the new laboratory, which will be run by Doctor Helen Fillmore.

Alison’s brother Graham Phelan, 21, went along to the event to show his support.

He said: ‘It’s been emotional but I’m so glad the money has gone towards something so constructive. The family will continue to come to the laboratory to see the amazing work which will be carried out.’

Professor Geoff Pilkington, head of the university’s brain tumour research centre, said: ‘It gives me great satisfaction that we have been able to work with Alison’s family.’

To find out more about the charity Brain Tumour Research or to make a donation go to braintumourresearch.org