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Cancer campaigner who coaxed Peter Kay out of retirement dies aged 23

A young woman whose bravery in the face of terminal brain cancer inspired thousands of people, including comedian Peter Kay, has died aged 23.

Laura Nuttall, from Barrowford in Lancashire, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour at the age of 18 and was told she had just 12 months to live.

In the five years since her diagnosis, Laura and her family have taken part in dozens of fundraising events and shared her story through social media to raise awareness of the disease.

Laura ticked off a dizzying array of challenges on her bucket list, including presenting the weather on BBC North West Tonight, piloting a Royal Navy ship and meeting Michelle Obama.

In 2021, she coaxed legendary comedian Peter Kay out of retirement as he played a series of gigs to raise money for her to receive treatment in Germany.

Reflecting on her experience, Laura told LadBible in an interview last year: “Sure everyone’s got a life, but are they out there living it? Or are they just waiting for tomorrow?”

On Monday, Laura’s mother, Nicola, shared the tragic news her daughter had passed away on Twitter.

“I’m heartbroken to share the news that we lost our beautiful Laura in the early hours of this morning,” Mrs Nuttall wrote.

“She was fierce & tenacious to the end & it was truly the honour of my life to be her mum.

“We are devastated at the thought of life without our girl, she was a force of nature.”

Comedian Diane Morgan, who recently sent a message of support to Laura, was among those to pay tribute.

“I’m so sorry. I feel like I got to know her a little bit through your posts,” she wrote.

“She was an amazing person. I could see that. And she couldn’t have had more loving parents. Sending you tonnes of love and support xxx”.

Laura’s diagnosis came as a result of a routine eye test, causing her to drop out of her plans to study at university in London.

But after enduring gruelling surgery to remove the largest of eight tumours, she returned to her studies at the University of Manchester and obtained a degree in politics, philosophy and economics last summer.

Peter Kay has announced two special upcoming shows (Photo: Ian West/PA Wire)
Peter Kay came out of retirement to put on fundraising shows for Laura Nuttall (Photo: Ian West/PA Wire)

Professor Jackie Carter said: “She was an incredible and spirited young woman. With her treatment, she defied all the odds after her diagnosis to complete her studies and graduate last summer.

“I got to know Laura and her amazing family well during her time here, as my own son has incurable brain cancer.

“I’ll never forget her telling me when we were raising money together at Manchester Pride that she wanted people to know who she was as a person, and see her determination, rather than just being seen as someone with cancer. Laura will always have a very special place in our university’s collective memory.”

In a statement on their website, the Brain Tumour Charity paid tribute to Laura writing: “Our deepest and most heartfelt condolences go to her family, to her sister Gracie, mum Nicola and dad Mark.

“Laura was steadfast in her determination to share the story of her own diagnosis and treatment in order to raise vital awareness of brain tumours, becoming a key Young Ambassador of The Brain Tumour Charity.”

“In this role she touched the hearts and minds of so many others, reaching out to offer comfort and hope to others going through similar diagnoses.

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

“We are committed to fighting for all those people whose lives are turned upside down by this devastating disease. We will continue to do this for everyone affected, and we will continue to do this to honour Laura.

“She was unique and she was loved by so many.”

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