Joe Plater

We are deeply saddened to hear that our wonderful BTF patron, Joe Plater, has died. Joe was a YouTuber and live streamer who was diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer in 2016 and lived with stage IV thyroid cancer over the past few years. 

Joe regularly vlogged about his diagnosis and treatment to raise awareness of thyroid cancer. Joe’s candid, eloquent, and often humorous updates, also supported many others on their own cancer journeys. He told us:

‘Despite the trials of thyroid cancer treatment I have found a way to not only help myself but also others through livestreaming. Having used it to rebuild my voice after surgery, I can now use that voice to support the British Thyroid Foundation and the work they do.’

Through his reach on YouTube he held a number of 24-hour Elite Dangerous live streams. As a result of his incredible fundraising efforts, we were able to set up the ‘Joe Plater BTF Thyroid Cancer Research Award’ in 2021. This £20,000 grant has funded a project looking at new drugs with the potential to re-sensitise the type of cancer Joe had (poorly differentiated thyroid cancer) to radioiodine treatment. 

When he learnt about this research study, Joe said:

‘It's great to hear a winner has been chosen and especially that it could benefit so many people in a similar situation to myself. The idea of taking something that can currently only be held stable at best and then making it potentially curable is an exciting prospect. Something that could potentially save the lives of thousands of people each year has to be worth looking into.
‘Targeted therapies aren't a walk in the park, you are constantly having to fight side effects from the nausea, the stomach upset to the sore feet, not having to deal with that would be amazing.’  
We are only sorry that these treatments did not come soon enough for Joe but, because of his efforts, researchers can continue to work on improving understanding of these cancers and, ultimately, improve outcomes for patients.
It was a privilege to count Joe as one of our patrons. Our thoughts are with Joe’s family and all those whose lives he touched at this sad time.

Clare Balding OBE

Clare Balding, TV presenter and sports journalist, became a patron of the BTF in August 2010. Clare was treated for thyroid cancer in 2009 and kindly endorsed the most recent edition of our thyroid cancer booklet.

Clare says: ‘I would be very honoured to accept your invitation and would like to thank the Trustees for thinking of me. I am sure you are aware that my work is rather all-encompassing but I shall do what I can to help raise awareness of thyroid disorders and in doing so, to help those who are suffering.'

Jenny Pitman OBE

Jenny Pitman has been a patron of the BTF since 1998. As a national hunt racehorse trainer Mrs Pitman has held a Trainer’s Licence since 1975 and was one of the first women to obtain a Trainer’s Licence under Jockey Club Rules. She has won the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup twice as well as the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Nationals and many other major National Hunt races. Mrs Pitman was awarded the OBE in the 1998 New Years Honours list for services to racing.

Her autobiography Jenny Pitman was published in November 1998. Mrs Pitman had personal experience of thyroid cancer in 1998, but is now in good health. We are extremely grateful for her support. Mrs Pitman provided the foreword to the first edition of the BTF booklet 'Thyroid Cancer: For Patients, By Patients' in 2006, in which she wrote: 'When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer I didn’t know which way to turn and quite honestly some of the literature I read was quite frightening and overly dramatic, which only added to my fears. Having read the information in the booklet I am very happy to recommend it and I am sure it will help you to understand the disease and your treatment'.

Josef Craig MBE

Josef Craig from Jarrow on Tyneside was the youngest male to win a gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. At just 15 years old he smashed two world records on the way to achieving his medal in the men's S7 400m freestyle.

This fantastic and inspirational achievement was despite the interruptions to his training caused by having been diagnosed with Graves' disease in 2011 and undergoing treatment for that. Josef says 'I am proud and honoured to become a patron of the BTF and I am more than willing to offer my support to such a brilliant cause.' Commenting on the BTF's children's animation he said 'The film is really funny yet informative and would make getting a diagnosis seem a lot less scary.'


 Dr Petros Perros BSc, MBBS, MD, FRCPE 

Dr Petros Perros is Consultant Endocrinologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne. He qualified from Newcastle University and trained in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

He has served as Trustee, Medical Advisor and Editor of the newsletter of the British Thyroid Foundation, member of the executive committee of the British Thyroid Association, Clinical convenor of Society for Endocrinology / British Thyroid Association Thyroid Network, member of Clinical Committee of the Society for Endocrinology, lead of the Society for Endocrinology Departmental Peer Review and past President of  European Group on Graves Orbitopathy. He edited the British Thyroid Association guidelines on thyroid cancer and co-authored European guidelines on Graves’ orbitopathy. His clinical and research interests include thyroid eye disease, other autoimmune thyroid diseases.

Lord Borwick of Hawkshead

Lord Jamie Borwick had Graves' disease some years ago and Thyroid Eye Disease as well, so when his thyroid misbehaved yet again, he had it removed in an operation in May 2011. Jamie lives in London with his wife Victoria and four children. Victoria has been an elected politician and now runs a foodbank, and Jamie is a businessman interested in charities, politics and travel. He is the Chairman of Federated Investments LLP.

Jamie joined the House of Lords in July 2013 where he is a Conservative Party Whip and a member of the Services Select Committee.


John Lazarus has been associated with Cardiff Medical School for 42 years. During this time he has provided the clinical thyroid service in addition to performing thyroid related research and was also much involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Initial thyroid research focused on metabolism of antithyroid drugs and then effects of lithium on thyroid gland function and physiology. Throughout his research career he has contributed many papers on iodine and iodine metabolism. He also investigated thyroid hormone action on mitochondria while a visiting scientist at Columbia University New York. He has been associated with the BTF for more than 20 years and served as a trustee for nine years. He has also been a strong supporter of The European Thyroid Association, being secretary-treasurer from 1996 to 2002.

John is a past president of The British Thyroid Association and also was the treasurer of The Association for the study of Medical education in UK. He is a founder member of European Group on Graves Orbitopathy. He is currently regional coordinator for West and Central Europe for Iodine Global Network. In 2018 Prof Lazarus was elected a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (LSW). He joined a group of over 400 distinguished men and women from all branches of learning. Election to fellowship is a public recognition of academic excellence.

Gay Search

Gay Search has been a patron of BTF since 2003. She is a writer and broadcaster who has become one of the country’s best-known gardening presenters, and is known for her very successful Front Gardens series. Ms Search has authored a number of best-selling gardening books, such as Geoff Hamilton: A Man and his Garden, and was gardening editor of Sainsbury’s The Magazine. In 2002, Gay had a thyroidectomy and takes thyroxine daily.

Ms Search is delighted to be a patron of BTF: 'I was delighted to accept since I am a great believer in self-help groups - I think they can offer support, information and reassurance in a way that most professionals, however well-meaning, can't do in quite the same way. I certainly found the British Thyroid Foundation invaluable while I was making up my mind about a thyroidectomy. I no longer have my goitre - it was removed along with my thyroid at the end of September 2002 - but I hope the fact that I am now on daily thyroxine means I am still qualified to be a patron!'

Dr W Michael Tunbridge MA MD FRCP

Dr Tunbridge has been a Patron since 2007. Dr Tunbridge trained at Cambridge and University College Hospital, London and qualified in medicine in 1964. After obtaining his MRCP, Dr Tunbridge found his interest in Diabetes and Endocrinology moving to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital. 

He retired from his post in 2003 and from clinical practice in 2005. In 1991 Dr Tunbridge organised a meeting to mark the centenary of the publication of Murray's discovery of thyroxine and donated the proceeds (£1000) to the newly formed British Thyroid Foundation and became one of the first trustees. Dr Tunbridge is 'honoured to accept the invitation to succeed Sir Richard Bayliss as patron of the British Thyroid Foundation'.