Sheila Turner, founder TPAUK – Obituary – – – – – – – – – -Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield – Obituary
Many thousands of people have reason to be grateful to Sheila Turner whether they knew her or not. This remarkable woman spent the latter part of her life campaigning for the better diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders.
Sheila was born on the 28th September 1937 in Bingley, Yorkshire. She was separated from her siblings when she was adopted at the age of two following the death of their mother from tuberculosis. She met Howard whilst she was training to be a Nurse and Howard was a Junior Health administrator. They married November 2nd 1957. They had two children, with Susan their daughter, being delivered by Howard in a remote cottage on Sheila’s birthday. Sadly Howard passed away in July 2017, 4 months short of their 60th wedding anniversary.
In 1999 she had the misfortune to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The standard treatment, Levothyroxine did not remove her symptoms and in fact seemed to make her worse. The NHS offered no explanations or help. After several years of worsening health during which time she ended up in a wheelchair, she was forced to visit a private hormone specialist who found that her body could not convert Levothyroxine into the active hormone T3 and prescribed the older treatment Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) which contains all the hormones that a thyroid produces and that a body needs. NDT enabled Sheila to regain her health, she described taking NDT as ‘like the sun coming out’.
It was her search for a NHS prescription for NDT that led her to begin campaigning and to the beginning of Thyroid Patient Advocacy (TPAUK). Despite being in her late sixties Sheila with little experience of computers or the internet decided to try and prevent people from suffering in the way that she had. She developed an online forum and a website to provide sufferers with a place to swap experiences and access information and began an ongoing campaign to challenge medical beliefs and orthodoxy. TPAUK became a charity in 2010.
Such was her dedication that she was always available on the end of a phone to help people personally. Her determination to make sure that sufferers were helped and treatment was changed meant that other parts of her life were put on hold; she was an accomplished painter, as was her supportive husband Howard, whom she had married when she was just 20. Their much-loved cottage in Ickornshaw, Yorkshire was used for meetings and clinics as well as an office for her campaigning.
Her legacy will be the many people who have regained their health with her help and the lives she undoubtedly saved and greatly improved through the information she gathered and provided.
Sheila was a warm, feisty, humorous person and an inspiring leader of the charity she founded. The campaign for the better treatment of hypothyroidism has lost an untiring, well informed and dedicated advocate, although she herself was modest about her achievement. In her own words she was just a seeker after truth.
Sheila Turner 28th September 1937 – 3rd of June 2019
Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield 1936 – 2023
I first met Dr. Peatfield a few weeks before he retired from his NHS practice. I had gone with a friend who suspected she might have hypothyroidism. He saw her, gave some advice, and asked that she make an appointment for a few weeks. When she went to make an appointment Dr. Peatfield was not seeing any more patients, and she was referred to Dr. Skinner.
I was having a lot of hypo problems myself and with searching round the web I found TPA, which was then just a little Yahoo group. The group started to expand and a few of us became moderators and called the working party, of which Dr. Peatfield was part of. I met Dr. Peatfield again at one of the working party meetings in Yorkshire.
However Dr. Peatfield was not one to retire and forget so many people who were suffering from hypothyroidism with nobody who could or would actually help them. He therefore had places in several parts of the country where he could still see, and help patients. One of them was at Sheila’s house. Even though he became unwell himself, he still carried on seeing patients. He would not let them down.
I only saw him once a year when we used to hold our working party meetings and as TPA membership grew, ended up having a conference each year, at the same time. He would always give an interesting talk, with friendly rivalry with Dr. Skinner.
My fondest memory of him was when we were sitting outside Sheila’s house, getting a bit of sun, and just chatting about things people chat about. I did find out that he loved cars.
He was kind, dedicated, brave, and caring and he will be missed by so many people.
Lilian’s reflections on Dr Peatfield.