Family of Dereham businessman set £1m target for Brian Cross Memorial Trust

From left, Rosie, Sally and Tom Cross are relaunching the Brian Cross Memorial Trust, in a bid to re

From left, Rosie, Sally and Tom Cross are relaunching the Brian Cross Memorial Trust, in a bid to reach £1m before the anniversary of his death. Up and coming events are Rosie is doing a marathon in Berlin, and Tom is organising a cley pigeon shoot. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A fundraising appeal in honour of one of Dereham's best-known figures has been re-launched by his family in a bid to reach an ambitious £1m milestone.

Businessman, entrepreneur and former mayor Brian Cross was described as a 'benevolent whirlwind' in the tributes which followed his death from a rare brain cancer in 2006, at the age of 62.

As the seventh anniversary approaches next month, the trust set up in his memory has raised £750,000 for vital research into brain tumours.

But while their own memories remain as strong as ever, Mr Cross's family said they are finding it increasingly difficult to encourage donations and maintain the momentum in each passing year since the departure of Dereham's larger-than-life character.

So now the appeal will be re-branded with a revived impetus – and given a goal of reaching £1m as a fitting way to commemorate the Brian Cross Memorial Trust's 10th anniversary in 2016.

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The family, from Gressenhall, have set their own personal challenges to help the target. Mr Cross's daughter Rosie is training for her first marathon in Berlin, while her brother Tom is hosting a charity clay shoot next month and their sister Camilla is running a cake stand.

But, along with their mother Sally, they are also keen to invite expertise and suggestions from businesses and experts to help them plan major fundraising events.

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Rosie, 23, said: 'It is so hard to keep asking people for money, because it is seven years since Dad passed away, but for us it still feels really fresh.

'They say grief is like a wound; you can put a plaster on it and the wound will heal, but when you take the plaster off the scar is still there. Dad is still here, we still live in the same house and we are always reminded of him. But it means we want to push forward and help other people.

'I really want to make people more aware. There's hardly any funding for brain tumour research, and people don't want to talk about it, because the things they go through are quite horrific.

'The hardest thing for us was when they said there was nothing more they could do. But there is no point complaining about it unless you can get up and do something.'

Rosie, who works as a financial consultant based in London, will run her charity marathon in Berlin on September 29. A family friend has already donated £10,000, and she hopes to add another £3,000 from sponsorship.

Meanwhile her brother Tom, 21, is soon to start his third year at Southampton Solent university, studying for a degree in advertising and marketing – skills which he hopes to use to build a new website for the trust and improve the administration of the charity.

'It is something I can be really passionate about, and it is part of making it a more professional outfit and part of the launch towards making it £1m,' he said. 'It is absolutely achievable.'

One event suggestion is for a charity music festival, inspired by the impresario instincts of Mr Cross, who famously brought legendary performers Jimi Hendrix and Rod Stewart to Dereham during their early careers.

Tom said: 'Dad was quite well-known for running concerts, so that is something which we can try to emulate – we have got the land to do it.'

Tom's charity clay shoot, starting from midday on September 15 will take place on land behind Gressenhall church, close to where Mr Cross is buried. The event, which attracted 140 entries last year, is open to anyone, with competitions including a 50-bird sporting open and a two-man flush as well as a have-a-go stand for beginners.

Mrs Cross added: 'I am running out of energy, but the children are taking over a lot of the effort now. It is coming up to seven years now and I was thinking that, having got to £750,000, that £1m would make a brilliant target. If you set yourself a goal, even if it seems ambitious, it gives you something to work for.'

Mr Cross started the Big Fry fish and chip chain, which expanded from the first branch in Dereham in 1969 to 12 shops in market towns across Norfolk. He also bought a farm, growing potatoes for the chip shops, and later became one of the biggest blackcurrant growers in the country.

The trust set up in his memory has funded three years of research at Cambridge University and another three years for the Samantha Dickson Trust, now known as the Brain Tumour Charity, where all future funds are being donated.

For more information or to offer help with fundraising, contact the Cross family at Hall Farm, Church Lane, Gressenhall, Dereham, NR19 2QF, phone 01362 860208 or email

To sponsor Rosie's marathon effort, visit

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