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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Five Questions with Thomas Brayford, Policy and Public Affairs Officer

by Alexa Davies

Thomas joined Brain Tumour Research in July 2022. Working closely with our Director of Research, Policy and Innovation, Dr Karen Noble, and our Head of Stakeholder Relations, Hugh Adams, he will support effective campaigning activities to increase the national investment in brain tumour research and help drive change for brain tumour patients and their loved ones.

What did you do before joining Brain Tumour Research?

Before joining Brain Tumour Research, I worked as Education Policy Officer at the National Autistic Society. My proudest achievement was writing a major education report. The report set out the actions that the Government must take to transform the lives of autistic children - tackling delays in getting support and improving the support that is on offer.

Prior to that, I worked at Westminster for an MP whose main interests were health and education. During my time there, we fought long and hard against the closure of a local hospital and campaigned alongside Beat, an eating disorder charity, to change policy and improve health service practice. Campaigning can be tough, but it can also be very fulfilling - especially when you experience success.

Why did you choose this profession?

I chose to work in this area because I wanted to make a real difference to people’s lives. I have a great interest in politics and one person I admire is Barack Obama. Obama's oratory skills are legendary, and he’s given us some incredible quotes. My favourite is: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” I find this quote is particularly inspiring and relevant for campaigners when they’re out on a wet and windy day.

What do you want to achieve in your new role as Policy and Public Affairs Officer?

As Policy and Public Affairs Officer, I look forward to working with colleagues and experts to raise awareness and understanding about brain tumours in Westminster and Whitehall and beyond. In the coming months, I hope to develop better relations with organisations, charities and politicians in the devolved nations.

I am determined to be part of the change that improves outcomes for brain tumour patients. As we know, brain tumours are the biggest killer for children and adults under the age of 40, yet only 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to the disease. This must change!

What’s your career highlight so far?

I really enjoyed campaigning on behalf of the National Autistic Society. At the beginning of this year, we started an education petition, calling on the Secretary of State to invest in autistic children’s futures. After collecting 40,000 signatures, the petition was delivered in person to the Department for Education - and we followed it with a demonstration in Parliament Square. Being involved from start to finish was a real honour.

Who inspires you?

Currently, I’d say the Ukrainian people inspire me greatly with their bravery and defiance. Generally, I’m inspired by stories of courage and resilience. Reading the stories on our website about the brave people diagnosed with brain tumours is also hugely inspiring.

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