Laura Nuttall, 'fierce and tenacious' campaigner supported by Peter Kay, dies of brain cancer aged 23

22 May 2023, 13:23

Laura Nuttall has died
Laura Nuttall has died. Picture: The Brain Tumour Charity/Alamy

By Kit Heren

A campaigner who Peter Kay came out of retirement to support has died of brain cancer aged 23.

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Laura Nuttall, who ticked off a "bucket list" of ambitions after her cancer diagnosis in 2018, said at the time that she had "chosen to do something about it and stay positive".

She was first given just 12 months to live after the glioblastoma diagnosis, which came in her first year of an international relations degree at University College, London.

She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and went back to university in Manchester, graduating with a 2:1 last summer.

Speaking at her graduation, Laura said: 'If someone tells me I can't do something, it makes me even more determined to do it and prove them wrong – my family knows that all too well.

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Laura Nuttall (left) with her mum Nicola and dad Mark
Laura Nuttall (left) with her mum Nicola and dad Mark. Picture: Alamy

"So when a doctor told me that I wouldn't be able to go back to university, I thought, 'we'll see about that' and it made me want to do my degree even more. Now here we are."

Laura also worked as an ambassador for the Brain Tumour Charity and had several "bucket list" experiences - including sitting in the driving seat of a train, and meeting the Obamas and Gillian Anderson.

Peter Kay was even coaxed out of retirement to join her family's efforts, hosting a Q&A on glioblastomas.

Paying tribute to the 23-year-old on Twitter after she died, her mother Nicola Nuttall said Laura had been "fierce and tenacious to the end".

Laura Nuttall was an ambassador for the Brain Tumour Charity
Laura Nuttall was an ambassador for the Brain Tumour Charity. Picture: Alamy

"I'm heartbroken to share the news that we lost our beautiful Laura in the early hours of this morning," she said.

She said it had "truly" been the "honour of my life to be her mum".

"We are devastated at the thought of life without our girl," she added.

"She was a force of nature."

Jack Morris, Chair of Trustees at The Brain Tumour Charity, said that the group was "saddened" and "so very sorry" at the news.

Laura took on a bucket list after her diagnosis
Laura took on a bucket list after her diagnosis. Picture: The Brain Tumour Charity

He added: "Since her diagnosis in 2018, Laura was steadfast in her determination to share her story to raise vital awareness of glioblastomas, their devastating impact and the need for greater investment in research.

"We were so honoured to work with her to raise awareness, including as she became one of our incredible Young Ambassadors in 2019, a role in which she touched the hearts and minds of so many, reaching out to offer comfort and hope to others going through similar diagnoses.

"In the face of such an impossibly difficult diagnosis at such a young age, Laura carried herself with so much grit and compassion – so often with a beaming smile.

Laura underwent operations, as well as several rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Laura underwent operations, as well as several rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Picture: Handout

"Her determination to live life to the full never failed to inspire everyone she met, whether in going back to university to complete her degree, coaxing Peter Kay out of retirement or achieving her incredible bucket list goals to present a BBC weather forecast, meet Michelle Obama and Dame Deborah James or drive a 650-ton crane.

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"We are so proud of her and everything she achieved, and so honoured to have been able to call her a much-adored friend and ambassador of The Brain Tumour Charity. She was such an inspiration to so many.

"Her loss is a fierce reminder of why we must move further, faster every day in driving progress to defeat brain tumours, so that other families do not have to endure this kind of heartbreak in the future."