Our Patrons

We are very fortunate to have the support of Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke as our Political Patron and Professor Laurence Lovat, Consultant Gastroenterologist at UCLH, as our Medical Patron.  We are currently on the look out to fill the Celebrity Patron post; suggestions are welcome!

Maria Miller MP 

Maria Miller MP headshot

Maria was first elected to represent Basingstoke in the 2005 General Election. On becoming a Member of Parliament, Maria was appointed to the Trade and Industry Select Committee. David Cameron appointed her as Shadow Minister for Education in December 2005, then Shadow Minister for Family Welfare in the Department for Work and Pensions in November 2006. Maria moved back to the Education team as Shadow Minister for the Family in July 2007 and remained in post until the 2010 General Election.

Maria was appointed Minister for Disabled People at the Department for Work and Pensions in the Coalition Government in May 2010 and was promoted to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Minister for Women and Equalities, from September 2012 to April 2014.In June 2015 Maria was elected as Chair of the newly established Women and Equalities Select Committee. Maria was nominated for the position by MPs across the House in 2017 and was re-elected unopposed.

Maria is a Director and Trustee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, a trustee of the Belarus Free Theatre and holds offices in a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, including Women in Parliament, Domestic Violence and Carbon Monoxide as well as Patron of HCUK

Since becoming our Political Patron Maria has actively supported Heartburn Cancer UK with campaigns in London and North Hampshire.  

Professor Laurence Lovat 

Prof. Laurence Lovat headshot

Professor Lovat is a consultant gastroenterologist specialising in gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s oesophagus and upper gastrointestinal cancer. He was the lead clinician for Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer at UCLH from 2001-8. He was appointed as a Consultant Gastroenterologist at UCH and Senior Lecturer in Laser Medicine at the National Medical Laser Centre, UCL in 1999. He previously chaired the North London Cancer Network Upper Gastrointestinal Tumour Board. He is active in clinical translational research to prevent oesophageal cancer, with particular interests in photodynamic therapy and novel optical biopsy techniques. He is the chief investigator for the UK National HALO Patient Registry.

As our Medical Patron Professor Lovat has supported us in many ways including independent media advise, peer review for our clinical trustees.  He is also helpful to test ideas with and endorse our thinking if appropriate.

Our Ambassadors 

We also have some wonderful ambassadors.

Chrissy Gorham 

Chrissy's husband John was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in late 2015 and sadly lost his battle in May 2017.  

John stopped working full time in June 2015 after 44 years.  His job meant he was desk bound and to counterbalance this sedentary lifestyle he had taken up running 35 years before. When he met Chrissy, ten years ago, he increased his mileage and ran 50 marathons between 2009 and 2016, virtually all of them with Chrissy running alongside him.

Since his death, Chrissy has continued to run marathons and amazingly completed her 100th in May 2019 – with proceeds going to Heartburn Cancer UK.  Never one to sit still for long, Chrissy's next challenge is to complete 10 marathons in 10 days!

When Chrissy is not running, she is teaching yoga or volunteering her time to Macmillan.  Chrissy is incredibly supportive to HCUK and is always willing to help us in any way she can whether it’s being interviewed for radio, sharing her story or raising funds.  

Rita Phillips 

Rita is a keen supporter of HCUK and was a Trustee until recently.  Due to other commitments Rita stood down as Trustee but we are pleased that Rita continues to support us and is a regular at the BSOCS (Basingstoke Stomach and Oesophageal Cancer) support group where her experience of the charity comes into its own. 

Rita is a retired Director or Nursing and keeps herself busy by volunteering at the local Hospice and is also a member of the local befriending service.  When she is not volunteering, she enjoys gardening, interior design, knitting and is an avid reader.

She has two married daughters and five wonderful grandchildren. She also regularly ‘dog sits’ two Springer Spaniels for one of her daughters.

Rita's main interests are trying to keep her garden tidy and generally helping with the upkeep of her home which is an old school built in 1848. In 1870 apparently the 2nd Duke of Wellington contributed £74 to build another classroom.

Matt Read 

Having worked in the Clinical Research area for in excess of 20 years Matt has seen progress and advances being made in the fields of gastroenterology and oesophageal cancer. 

Matt manages a small contract clinical research organisation (CRO) that conducts clinical trials across a range of cancers. His experience in research, patient engagement and access to Pharmaceutical industry leads are a great asset to the charity.  

Matt is married with 3 children and enjoys long distance cycling and badminton in his spare time.

Belinda Johnston 

Belinda was elected as our first ambassador in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Charity.

Belinda, a scientist by profession, was one of the original founders of the charity when it de-merged in 2010, originally under the name of HCAS and now HCUK. Belinda has given unstintingly of her time and effort, in the first instance to establish the charity by undertaking all secretarial duties, essential in getting the charity up and running and organised in a professional manner as well as supporting and giving sound advice as appropriate. She has a passion for creating awareness of the disease in the knowledge that early diagnosis considerably reduces the risk.

In a quiet dignified manner Belinda has set an example of service that few can equal.