A teenager will take part in the Queens’ Baton Relay ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games in honour of her sister who died of a brain tumour.

Amani Liaquat, a Masters student and first-class honours law graduate from Luton, died in February on her sister Ruqayyah's 21st birthday, less than two years after being diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). 

She was just 23 years old and a staunch campaigner and fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research, which nominated her as a baton-bearer because of the valued contribution she had made to the charity, including to its #BrainTumourPetition and Stop the Devastation campaigns. 

Amani died five days after learning about her nomination but, after she was accepted, her youngest sister Maleehah agreed to carry the baton in her place.

Maleehah, 16, said: “I was beyond proud when I found out Amani had been nominated as a baton bearer for the Commonwealth Games. Fortunately, we were able to share this good news with her before she passed away and, although she is no longer here to do this for herself, I feel honoured to be able to take part in remembrance of her. 

She added: “It’s been a big adjustment, spending every moment possible with my sister and caring for her constantly, to her no longer being by my side. I feel like it’s something I will never be able to process and accept. 

“She is my biggest inspiration and not just to me but to so many people around the world who see her as a role model. She was the sweetest, kindest person I will ever meet and my heart breaks more and more every day knowing she had to leave this world in such a cruel way. 

“Amani was so strong and she kept fighting even when there was no hope left for her. She fought for the sake of others and I think that’s something everyone can learn from.” 

Maleehah will carry the baton 200 metres through the town’s Wardown Park setting off at 5.12pm on 8 July. It is a place that holds a lot of childhood memories and is where her family held Luton's first ever Walk Of Hope, which raised more than £15,000 for Brain Tumour Research, in September last year. 

She said: “I am looking forward to taking this responsibility as Amani's little sister. She always paved the way perfectly for me and our other sister so it feels only right for me to do this now for her. I will carry the baton with pride and confidence in remembrance of Amani and to continue with her fight for justice.”

She added: “As part of my GCSE English exam I wrote a speech about Amani, which I plan to record and release a video of on the day I am a baton-bearer in her honour. My love for my older sister will never die and for this reason I will never stop speaking about her, no matter how hard it is. Sharing her story and telling the world will spread understanding and awareness whilst also keeping her memory alive.”

Asian Image:

Amani with family at her graduation; mum Yasmin, dad Khuram and sisters Maleehah and Ruqayyah.

Her mum, Yasmin, said: “Amani loved being involved in campaigning and raising awareness about the lack of research in brain cancer research – it brought purpose and focus to her darkest days and gave her something to focus on outside of herself and her own problems. Many times Amani could be heard saying: 'it might be too late for me but I want to make a change for others'. 

“She hated this disease and how it descended so quickly and robbed her of her life, hopes and dreams. The thought of others going through this same illness would often upset her. She just couldn't sit back and watch others suffer as she was, so she decided to speak up and try to make a difference. 

“Her physical appearance had changed greatly since her diagnosis so putting herself in the spotlight was both selfless and extremely brave. In a world where appearance seems to be everything, Amani brought a new narrative. She showed it is far more important what you do with the time you are given, however limited that might be, rather than the appearance you show to the world. 

“Through her campaigning and fundraising work with Brain Tumour Research and her podcasts on her @Fight4Amani Instagram page and YouTube channel, she has left so many powerful legacies behind. If any of these can be a part of bringing about concrete change to the current funding of brain cancer research or finding a cure she would be so proud.”

She added: “It will be very emotional to watch our youngest daughter partake in such an honourable and historic moment, even more so knowing this was meant as an honour for Amani who is no longer with us. Wardown Park holds many memories for us as a family and particularly as we held a Walk Of Hope fundraising event for Brain Tumour Research there last year where Amani bravely addressed the crowd at the starting line with a passionate speech about the lack of funding into brain cancer asking: 'is my life not worthy of saving?'.”

Amani is one of thousands of baton-bearers, each with inspiring backgrounds and stories, to have been given the honour of carrying the baton during its 25-day 2,500-mile journey through England, which will culminate with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony on 28 July.

Her family intend to watch some of the games on television but say they ‘will feel a great loss’ at not being able to enjoy it with her by their side.

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Amani was a true inspiration and a brave ambassador for the brain cancer community. She was generous with her time, even when she knew she didn’t have long left, and extremely passionate about the cause. She is a worthy recipient of this honour and, although it is tragic she won’t be able to be there in person, we know that she will be there in spirit and would have been very proud of Maleehah.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at the dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To find out more about Brain Tumour Research, you can visit www.braintumourresearch.org.