'It’s not fair mummy died' - a seven-year-old is honouring the memory of his mum who sadly died of an incurable brain tumour.

Tributes have been paid to much-loved Dalton mum Briar Butler who died from an aggressive brain tumour in August last year.

The trainee accountant, who lived in Kendal, was just 30 years old when, in June 2018, she was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.

The Mail:

Briar's mum and her son Noah's legal guardian Beverley Shirreffss said: "Briar’s diagnosis came after years of her suffering from debilitating mental health problems, which were diagnosed as bipolar and borderline personality disorder.

"Since they discovered she had a brain tumour, I’ve been told that her symptoms may actually have been related to that and not the mental health problems we were led to believe she had.”

Briar’s diagnosis with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) came after police carried out a welfare check at her flat and she was taken to Westmorland General Hospital.

A CT scan found a ‘mass’ and she was blue-lighted to Preston Royal Hospital in Lancashire, where the severity of her condition was confirmed.


The Mail:

Ms Shirreffss, a retired social researcher, described the terminal diagnosis as 'life-changing'.

She said: “The news that Briar had an incurable brain tumour, carrying with it a stark Ms prognosis of just a few months, was completely shocking and life-changing. I begged the medics not to tell Briar just how bad things were.

"I knew that in her mentally fragile state, she wouldn’t be able to handle the shock of knowing she had a terminal illness. I wanted to protect her from any more pain.”

Briar underwent surgery to treat hydrocephalus, a severe swelling caused by excess fluid in the brain. The operation was followed by a debulking of the tumour and several more surgeries, after she developed infections in her skull.


The Mail:

Ms Shirreffss said: “Briar went through such a terrible time in hospital. The final operation she had was to treat gangrene, caused by severe necrosis. They removed skin from her leg to treat the infected area on her head. It was horrendous.”

In September 2018, Briar was discharged from hospital and moved in with Beverley and Noah, in the knowledge that she had limited time left. Her dying wish was to make what she thought would be her final Christmas with Noah as special as possible and so friends and family galvanised the local community to fundraise to help pay for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland.

Ms Shirreffss said: “They set up a crowdfunding page and with the support of our amazing community, raised enough to fund the trip. However, by December it became clear that Briar wouldn’t be well enough to travel and so, instead, they went to Center Parcs and made memories together there.”

In January 2019, Briar’s condition was deteriorating rapidly and she moved into St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston, where she stayed for three months. When she was discharged, she moved back into her flat but sadly, just a few months later, she was in decline again and had to move into Risedale Abbey Meadow care home in Barrow.


The Mail:

Ms Shirreffss said: “Noah and I would visit daily. All the staff were so lovely and would make a fuss of Noah. There were days when Briar didn’t recognise me but I spent all day, every day with her, wanting to cling on to every precious moment.

“Then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit and everything changed. All of a sudden, we weren’t allowed to see each other, due to the restrictions. Noah couldn’t visit his dying mummy and I couldn’t visit my dying daughter.

“Right at the end of her life, they allowed me to go in and see her. I spent the weekend before she passed by her side, singing nursery rhymes I used to sing to her when she was a baby. I could see she was agitated and struggling. I spoke to her softly and gave her permission to go. On Monday August 17 2020, at 9.13am, she took her last breath. She died at exactly the same time of day she was born.

“I miss Briar so much and the pain I feel is unbearable."


The Mail:

To honour his beloved mum's memory, her son Noah Griffiths, a pupil at Burlington Church of England Primary School, has taken up a new-found skill.

The seven-year-old has learned to ride a bike to take part in Cycle 274 Miles in August to raise funds for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

His grandmother recently bought him his first bicycle and he took to it immediately.

Ms Shirreffss said: “Within minutes of giving Noah his brand-new bike, he was off, riding without stabilisers, having never ridden before. He was amazing!

“When I heard about the Cycle 274 Miles in August Challenge and asked Noah if he wanted to be involved, he jumped at the chance. He suffers from low self-esteem, anxiety and attachment disorder. Learning to ride a bike has given him a huge confidence boost and something really positive to focus on after all the heartache and trauma he’s been through.

"Channelling our grief into this challenge is really cathartic and is giving us a purpose. Noah’s fundraising is just the start of what I hope will be a longstanding relationship with Brain Tumour Research.

"I want to raise enough money to fund a day of research at one of the charity’s Centres of Excellence, which will mean that Noah can have a commemorative tile placed in Briar’s memory. I am so proud of him; he gives me a reason to get up every day and to carry on.”


The Mail:

Noah, who referred to his mum’s brain tumour as a ‘head germ’, said: “My mummy was beautiful. She had golden hair because she was going to be an angel and now, she watches me riding for her. I miss her every day. Sometimes she shouted because the germ in her head did that but I still loved her.

“It’s not fair Mummy died. I’m so sad but I ride my bike so that it helps other children’s families who get ill like my mummy.”

To make a donation to Brain Tumour Research via Noah’s fundraising page, visit: https://www.facebook.com/donate/578592593147793