AN ILKLEY man who has been treated for a brain tumour is starring in a marketing campaign to raise funds to help find a cure for the disease.

Dad-of-two Damon Bowles, 49, is taking centre stage and sharing his story alongside his wife Kate and their daughters Imogen, 21, and Lucinda, 18. Damon received radiosurgery treatment, known as Gamma Knife, for a low-grade acoustic neuroma brain tumour in 2018.

The shocking diagnosis came after Damon began suffering from symptoms included poor hearing on one side, tinnitus and balance issues. An MRI scan in 2015 revealed a pea-sized tumour buried in the left side of his brain. Consultants recommended ‘watching and waiting’ rather than immediate treatment – acoustic neuromas are normally slow growing – but within a year it had nearly doubled in size to 14mm.

Damon and his family have joined other families across the UK, to feature in Brain Tumour Research’s nationwide marketing campaign for Brain Tumour Awareness Month. The month culminates in Wear A Hat Day on Friday, March 27. Now in its 11th year, Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £1.25 million to help fund the fight against the disease.

Damon, who is head of content at Otley-based communications agency Words and Pictures, said: “The symptoms first appeared as poor hearing on my left side, I frequently misheard what people were saying, tinnitus and stumbling for no apparent reason. It was frustrating and sometimes embarrassing, but I initially put it down to middle-age.

“By the time I received my diagnosis, I had a hearing aid and often used a walking stick. I had to position people on my right side, or risk missing what they were saying. My family had to adapt too, speaking more loudly, repeating words and having to assume that I missed at least part of what was being said. It’s been frustrating and stressful for everyone.”

As the tumour had grown, Damon was offered stereotactic radiotherapy using the Gamma Knife to prevent it from spreading further. In April 2018 he went ahead with the technologically advanced treatment at the Institute of Oncology at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds.

He added: “I was so fortunate to be given the option of non-invasive treatment rather than brain surgery. There are only four Gamma Knife machines in the UK and I thank my lucky stars that one was nearby and that the treatment was available on the NHS. I can’t thank the NHS and the people who looked after me enough. I’ll be eternally grateful.”

This year the focus of the campaign is on the devastation the disease causes to families. All those taking part in the Wear A Hat Day 2020 shoots have either been bereaved by a brain tumour, are living with a brain tumour or have a close family member who has been diagnosed. Some families have three generations involved and all are donning their best headwear from beanies to cowboy hats, trilbies to Panamas, baseball caps to novelty headpieces, and are asking others to join them for this year’s event.

Among corporate supporters already signed up for the fundraiser include Hobbycraft and Venture Studios, the latter worked with the families to create the stunning portraits used in the campaign.

Damon added: “Taking part in this campaign is incredibly important to me, as someone who has benefitted from research into new, non-invasive treatments for low-grade brain tumours. Raising awareness and funding is vital in the quest to help find more treatment options and ultimately, to find a cure for this terrible disease. Last July I took part in the inaugural Ilkley half marathon, raising more than £1,500 for Brain Tumour Research. The charity means a lot to me. The shoot was a lot of fun and it was really special to have all four of us together, especially since our girls are both away at university now. They and Kate were so supportive throughout my tough diagnosis and treatment. This was a great thing to do together as a family.”

Text HAT to 70450 to donate £5. Visit