Epilepsy stories inspire Council to spread word

David Gilmour, who was a Volunteer UK Award Winner from Epilepsy Action.
David Gilmour, who was a Volunteer UK Award Winner from Epilepsy Action.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has backed a call from Epilepsy Action NI to help raise awareness of the illness.

The charity’s Northern Ireland Manager, Clare Watson, and volunteer David Gilmour, made an impassioned plea to councillors during a presentation at last week’s Leisure and Development Committee meeting.

Councillors were told the stark news that one in every ninety people in the province now suffers from Epilepsy.

Mr Gilmour, who recently won the charity’s Campaigner of the Year Award,said he was diagnosed in 1993.

“There was very little support at that time, it wasn’t an easy process. But you can live a perfectly normal life when medically controlled.

“I want to get that message out there and help people so that there is no stigma attached.

“You may lose employment opportunities, but it doesn’t stop you from working.”

The Mayor, Cllr Michelle Knight McQuillan, revealed her own personal experience with the illness.

“I suffered as a teenager, there wasn’t the support network for me or my family,” she said. “There was a stigma attached and I didn’t speak about it for a long time. It changed my career path, but as David said it didn’t stop me from working.

“Through medicine I was able to get on with my life and I think that is important for people to know and understand.”

Ms Watson said it was vital to have people talking about Epilepsy to raise awareness of it. She asked council to display brochures and also get behind their campaigns such as the Turn it Purple Day on March 26th next year by turning council buildings purple.

Cllr Trevor Clarke called for council to back the campaign. “This is a great message for us to send out, it helps people gain an insight and also breaks down preconceptions.

“I think lighting up council buildings is a great idea.”

Richard Baker, Corporate Director of Leisure and Development Services said Council could explore those options.