Charity champion awarded posthumous MBE

Martin Segal set up a charity to support people with gastric-related cancers after his diagnosis


Rebecca, Martin and Natan Segal (Photo: courtesy of Rebecca Segal)

Much-loved and much-missed communal figure Martin Segal has been awarded a posthumous MBE for his services to cancer research and to patients with terminal illness in the King’s Birthday Honours List. 

Martin Segal, who was the executive director of the Israel Guide Dogs Centre UK, died from oesophageal cancer at the age of 58 in January.

The Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue member set up the charity Burp to support people with gastric-related cancers and to raise awareness of symptoms.

His wife Rebecca told the JC that she and Natan, 23 – Martin’s son and her stepson –  were “bursting with pride for the incredible achievements Martin has made during his life and the wonderful legacy he leaves behind. He had so much to give and did so much good during his life, and all of the work he did will continue on."

“I remember him telling me, not long ago, that I make him into a better person, which touched me immensely. But I feel that it really does work both ways and that, in turn, he helped me become a better person.”

In 2007, Rebecca underwent treatment for breast cancer and in 2011, she met Martin. The couple married later that year. Martin’s first wife had died from a brain tumour in 2006.

“Sometimes you don’t realise how amazing someone is or how special they are, in terms of what they did for other people, until they are no longer here,” she said.

“He was also really intelligent and very well read. If ever I wanted to find out something, I would ask Martin.”

In 2022, after Martin was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, he struggled with the symptoms, but found there was little support available.

He founded Burp, a support group at Chase Farm Hospital, which holds information sessions with medical experts and meets every six weeks.

“I went along to all the meetings to support him. For the last two years of his life, I was his carer,” said Rebecca, who is still involved with Burp.

Martin’s hope was that the charity would also raise awareness of the little-known symptoms of gastric-related cancers.

Within the Jewish community, Martin was best known for his role at the helm of the Israel Guide Dogs Centre UK, which he was credited with turning around and where Rebecca is the office manager.

Martin’s MBE for his contribution to cancer research and care is “another notch to add to Martin’s belt,” said his wife. “This is just such an incredibly well-deserved award…Anybody who knew him well would know he would be revelling in this - and quite rightly so!”

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