Shropshire care assistant takes on marathon challenge in memory of brother

A Shropshire care assistant, who changed career after his brother died from an aggressive brain tumour, is taking on a marathon challenge in his memory and to raise vital funds for charity.

John Payne, who works at Barclay Gardens care home in Donnington, is taking part in the Jog 26.2 Miles in May challenge in support of Brain Tumour Research and with just a few days to go he is stepping up his efforts.

It follows the heartbreaking death of his younger brother Matt Payne, who died in November 2021, just 15 months after being diagnosed with an aggressive and fast-growing brain tumour, aged 38.

Throughout his last year John helped care for his brother, alongside Matt’s wife, Zoe, a 36-year-old teaching assistant.

The experience led him to rethink his career and in February he left his job as a kitchen porter to retrain as a care assistant.

He now works for Shropshire’s largest not-for-profit care provider, Coverage Care Services, looking after elderly residents on a day-to-day basis.

John said: “My family commented how supportive I was with Matt and so I decided to try it and I liked it. It’s been very rewarding so far and I really enjoy going to work every day.”

Debbie Ellis, manager of Barclay Gardens, said John was a real asset to the team and his caring nature had shone through since day one.

“We are delighted to have John as part of our team. He has a very caring nature and will do anything to support our residents to live a fulfilled, happy and comfortable life. It takes great courage to change careers like that but just goes to show that a job working in the care sector can be very rewarding for individuals even if they’ve never considered it before.

“Hearing about John’s heartbreaking story and how he cared for his younger brother has touched us all and it would be great to get as much support as possible for John throughout the rest of May as he looks to complete his marathon challenge to raise money for Brain Tumour Research. It goes without saying that we are wishing him the very best of success with it.”

Matt, a father of two, was diagnosed with a brain tumour after he began suffering from memory loss and went for an MRI scan. A subsequent biopsy revealed that he had a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Matt received radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, however due to the aggressive and fast-growing pace of the tumour, doctors discontinued treatment and Matt died at home in November 2021, surrounded by his family, including two young children, Ava aged nine and Aston, aged 12.

Motivated by the tragic loss of his brother, John is joining thousands of other fundraisers around the country, by taking part in the Jog 26.2 Miles in May Challenge to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

John said: “Matt was incredibly brave throughout his diagnosis and I’m not sure if he ever fully understood what his diagnosis meant as the tumour caused problems with his cognition.

“By taking part in this challenge throughout May, I am determined to raise as much money as I can to help fund vital research for this disease.”

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We were so very sorry to learn about Matt and we are sending our thoughts to the family. It’s incredibly heart-warming to hear that Matt’s death has inspired his brother in more ways than one and we wish John well in his new chosen career and as he takes on the marathon challenge in memory of his brother.”

To support John in his fundraising efforts visit