Brain tumour survivor from the Wirral receives award for supporting cancer patients and families

Rachel Pritchard went along to see Dave receive his award and find out how his work is changing lives.

A survivor of the world's deadliest brain cancer has been given a special achievement award for his work helping others with the disease.

Dave Bolton, from Greasby on the Wirral, was given just months to live when he was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme IV (GBM4).

But, the 42-year-old said: "I wasn't going to sit on my couch, waiting to die", and after two major brain surgeries and a year of chemotherapy, his tumour began to shrink.

Now, nine years on, he has beat the odds, and joined forces with former Liverpool footballer Dominic Matteo to start Ahead of the Game Foundation in New Brighton, a charity which provides mental health support to people with cancer and their families.

Since then, the charity has provided cancer patients with free access to family support counselling, financial guidance, guided walks, and yoga sessions.

He has now been given an award by the National Lottery for his charity's work improving the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of cancer patients and their families.

It was presented to him in a special ceremony by 80's pop icon Martin Kemp.

On receiving the award, Dave said: "Just to be nominated as part of thousands of incredible people was a real honour.

"Receiving the phone call to inform me I had actually won was a complete shock and I couldn’t quite believe it."

Dave receiving his award.

Dave was told he had just eight months to live in 2015 when doctors discovered he had a GBM4 - one of the world's deadliest brain tumours.

As a former soldier, Police Constable, and World Kickboxing Champion, Dave is no stranger to challenges. However, this would be his toughest one yet.

He said: "As an ex-fighter, I called [the brain tumour] Terry. He was my opponent in the scariest most brutal fight that I will ever undertake."

During his treatment he suffered multiple seizures, a skin cancer diagnoses, and the death of his mother.

Despite this, Dave beat the odds and his tumour began to shrink.

He said: "One of the main things was having that positive attitude – because I always say accept your diagnoses but don’t accept your prognosis."

As well as giving free advice and support, the foundation also offers massage and spa sessions to cancer patients.

Members of the public were invited to nominate people for the National Lottery Awards, and out of 3,700 nominees Dave was chosen by a judging panel to receive the Special Achievement award, along with a £5,000 cash prize.

Dave was nominated by many of the people he has helped since he set up the Ahead of the Game in 2021. One of those people is James Connolly, who's surgeon recommended he reach out to the charity after he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.

James said: "Dave to me is great. He's basically a living superhero. He doesn’t wear a cape, but he probably could.

"He’s just a fountain of knowledge. It's just brilliant to have someone who’s been through it and has won the battle in your corner helping you get through it as well."

As well as running the charity, Dave has also organised and taken part in fundraisers.

The award was presented to Dave by 80's pop star and former Eastenders actor Martin Kemp, who was himself diagnosed with two brain tumours in 1995.

Martin said: "It’s so inspiring to see Dave and the charity doing such excellent work in bridging the gap in services by offering much needed physical, emotional and mental rehabilitation for people with a cancer diagnosis."

Martin himself was diagnosed with two brain tumours in 1995, and has seen first hand the toll cancer can have on a patients mental health.

"Having survived two benign brain tumours, I know only too well how important it is to have this level of support, not only for the individual, but for their families as well.

"The hospital fix you physically – they took my brain tumours away – but what you’re left with is a deep dark hole that you have to dig yourself out of.

"After the operation, where do you go? I found I needed help mentally… I didn’t know it at the time, but I fell into this big deep depression."

"Dave is very driven and he now passes that special energy and fighting spirit on to all the people he helps. 

"What he has achieved against all odds provides those he supports with a real sense of hope and determination to do the same."

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