Death of 21-year-old from brain tumour ‘not fair’, father says

The death of his “lively and engaging” 21-year-old daughter from a brain tumour was “just not fair”, a Conservative council leader has said.

Emily Oliver, whose father Tim Oliver is the leader of Surrey County Council, died on July 15 at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, 18 months after she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour.

A funeral service for family and close friends will take place at Randall’s Park Crematorium, Leatherhead, on Monday.

Emily was studying nursing at Nottingham University when she became ill.

“She had everything to look forward to,” Mr Oliver said.

“I didn’t think there is any parent who wouldn’t swap positions. It’s just not fair.

“We just think it’s a loss of somebody who I think would have contributed to life and, certainly in terms of the nursing profession, I think she would have really embraced that.”

Emily used her final months – including her 21st birthday in October – to raise more than £40,000 for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 – causing 5,000 deaths each year – yet the charity says brain tumour research accounts for less than 2% of more than £500 million spent on cancer research in the UK every year.

Mr Oliver will continue his daughter’s campaign by raising money for the charity when he cycles in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on August 4.

More than £14,000 has already been pledged to support Mr Oliver and son James, 25, for the fund-raising ride.

Tim Oliver with his daughter Emily
Tim Oliver with Emily (Family handout/PA)

“It will be quite emotional. I’m looking forward to it. It’s something really positive for me to do,” he said.

“We have just got to rebuild our lives.”

Mr Oliver, who also has an older daughter Charlotte, 26, remembered Emily as “a very kind person”.

“She was quite loud. You knew when she was in a room. We used to say ‘can’t you pipe down a bit?’

“She was lively and engaging. She was the youngest and the one that I said I worried about the least as she just got on with life.”

He added: “She embraced life to the full. She was a memorable person. When she walked into the room people would smile and laugh.”

Emily with Clare Balding
Emily with Clare Balding (Family handout/PA)

Emily went to Guildford High School, then chose to board at Millfield, in Somerset, while she did her A-levels.

Her father said she “didn’t necessarily work as hard” as she could have done and got into some “minor trouble”, adding: “She would push the boundaries.

“Emily, who was not an early riser, objected to getting down for roll call in the morning and was consistently two minutes late.”

He said it drove the housemaster mad “and she just laughed”, adding: “She was slightly disrespectful.”

Mr Oliver also remembered having to make a donation to school funds to smooth things over after “she jumped out of a hedge and jumped on someone she thought was a friend, and it turned out to be the headmaster”.

Emily’s parents were asked to collect her from Millfield after she returned from the Glastonbury festival filthy after driving there contrary to school rules.

Emily’s brother James brought her home as Mr Oliver and his wife Debi were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and had invited friends round for lunch.

“She arrived looking like Swampy and sat down and regaled them with stories of what she has done. She just loved life,” her father said.

A celebration of Emily’s life will be held at Christ Church, Esher, on September 14.

To donate to Mr Oliver’s fundraising visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/timoliversurreycountycouncil

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