Scientist Lucy Ahern is preparing to run a marathon to help fund medical research in memory of her best friend from school, who died aged just 23 from brain cancer.

The 26-year-old from Hackney had met Amani Liaquat, a law graduate, when they were at school growing up in Hitchin in 2011.

They kept in touch through university — then came together again following Amani’s shock diagnosis on her 22nd birthday in April 2020 that she had gliolastoma terminal brain tumour, with a prognosis of only 12 to 18 months.

Amani had life-prolonging treatment on top of her NHS surgery, paid by family and friends who raised £100,000 in 24 hours — but the tumour continued to grow. She died in February 2022.

“Amani was my best friend in school,” Lucy recalls. “We had most of our lessons together like our science classes. I’ve got a funny picture of Amani standing on the edge of a window sill next to our physics teacher who we’d somehow convinced to climb up for a parachute experiment we were doing. Amani could be very persuasive.”

Lucy is running the Manchester Marathon in aid of Brain Tumour Research on Sunday (April 14), two weeks before what would have been Amani’s 26th birthday.

“Amani would be surprised that I’m doing a marathon,” Lucy added. “I wasn’t good at PE at school.

“But I understand as a scientist how long it takes to carry out research into a disease and how much it costs, which is why I support research to help others like Amani in the future.

“No-one should have to go through what she did.”

Amani was a passionate Brain Tumour Research supporter herself, knowing she didn’t have long to live.

The Brain Tumour Research charity’s Charlie Allsebrook said: “Her legacy drives us on to find a cure. It’s testament to her remarkable character that friends like Lucy continue to support us in her name.”

Brain tumours kill more children and young adults than any other cancer, the charity points out. Yet just one per cent of the national spend on research has been allocated to it since 2002. Campaigners are calling for a £35 million annual budget to improve survival rates in line with other cancers.