News

'His first thought was to help others': Tributes to former Big Issue Invest CEO as he faces cancer diagnosis

James Fairweather wants to tell his story to shine a light on brain cancer and help bring in more funds for research.

James Fairweather is fighting to raise funds for brain cancer research as he faces the disease himself. Photo: courtesy of James Fairweather and family

James Fairweather is fighting to raise funds for brain cancer research as he faces the disease himself. Photo: courtesy of James Fairweather and family

Former Big Issue Invest CEO James Fairweather’s dogged fight against a life-changing cancer has brought an emotional tribute from Big Issue Group chair Nigel Kershaw.

In the Big Issue next week, and here on bigissue.com, we carry James’s story in his words. The 61-year-old was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in May. It came from nowhere and has brought a brutal regime of radiation treatment and a life-shattering change of circumstances for the previously active, outdoor-loving young grandfather.

His wife Mary told us, the cancer has “carpet-bombed our lives”.

Nigel Kershaw and James worked together as chair and chief executive to scale up Big Issue Invest several years ago and his legacy remains in the impact that Big Issue Invest makes for so many people.

“One of James’s first thoughts when he told me the devastating news about his diagnosis was how he could help others,” said Kershaw. “He wanted to tell his story so that a light could be shone on brain cancer and, that perhaps by doing so, he could help bring in more funds for research. It is such a terrible cancer and remains one of the most chronically underfunded in research and treatment.”

James said he was “lucky” to have access to medical treatment, as patients face a “postcode lottery around the UK”. He expressed particular concern for Big Issue vendors, who often face barriers to healthcare.

Kershaw added, “James’s courage reminds me of Mo Mowlam who was also a great supporter of the Big Issue. Mo like James after being diagnosed with brain cancer continued to work for and support our vendors. I feel so small, humbled and inspired by incredible people like James and Mo.

“All our deep respect and love from everybody at Big Issue Group goes to James and his family.”

In his emotional piece, James tells the Big Issue how the news came out of the blue. He had been enjoying a cycling holiday in Mallorca in early May this year. But days after he returned to the UK he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer leaves the sufferer with a life expectancy of 12 months.

“I promise to keep going,” he said.

Read James’s story here.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices
energy bills
Energy bills

Energy bills are set to fall but UK families have already lost £72bn to 'staggering' prices

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election
Trussell Trust food banks
General election 2024

Poverty costs the UK billions each year. Politicians must commit to ending it this general election

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
Department for Work and Pensions

Abuse survivor tried to take her own life after years-long battle with DWP over disability benefits

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know