We love the Epilepsy Action Awards! They give us the opportunity to celebrate brilliant things that are improving the world for people with epilepsy. And we get to share the stories of the epilepsy heroes who make a real difference for people with epilepsy all over the UK.
We’ve presented 11 awards over the last few months, travelling from Cardiff to Exeter, from Truro to Blackburn. You can read a bit more about a few of the winners below.
Simon Privett - volunteer
Simon, 37, has epilepsy and is a passionate advocate for people living with the condition. He has set up and manages two extremely successful Epilepsy Action coffee and chat groups in Exeter and Torbay. More recently, he has launched a third support group at Exeter University. He knows the importance of helping people to stay in touch beyond the group meetings and runs active Facebook groups. He also delivers epilepsy training in University departments and local businesses and is a member of Epilepsy Action’s research network.
Accepting the award, Simon said: “I’m completely humbled to be honoured with this award. There are so many people across the country who work to help others with epilepsy. Therefore, to be nominated for this award was an honour in itself and I am thrilled to have won it. I would like to dedicate this award to those who I have helped and those who we have sadly lost to epilepsy. There is more work to be done spreading awareness and I am keen to continue in my work.”
Bob Sutcliffe – fundraiser
Bob, now 49, was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 36, which came as a huge shock to him. He re-trained as a primary school teacher but was struck with ill health yet again after he had a series of heart attacks caused by a virus. His brother bought him some watercolour paints to help his recovery. Soon, his dabbles with painting turned into commissions – creating an idea to raise money for charity.
Bob has since raised more than £4,500 for Epilepsy Action by selling paintings and cards and cushions of his artwork on his website Bob On Paintings. He has even been known to paint after both of his wrists were broken following a violent seizure. As well as this, if Bob finds out about someone who was diagnosed with epilepsy, he is often known to send a painting to them or their family.
He has donated paintings for fundraising balls and National Doodle Day and this year has designed a robin Christmas card for the charity. He painted this while recovering from two broken wrists following a severe seizure. The card is currently being sold in several Cards for Good Causes pop-up shops across the country.
Bob was presented with the award at Sherwood Primary School, where he works. He said: “I just hope that my determination, not just to paint but also to teach, helps others to see a way forward. Epilepsy Action has been there for me and my family when I’ve needed support.
Fundraising means I can help it to continue to be there for people who are going through the same thing. I’d like to thank everyone who supports me by both buying my cards and asking me to paint for them. I’d also like to thank my school community for encouraging me and showing it’s possible to be successful in a challenging job with this condition. It’s so important to show children that epilepsy is not scary or something that limits you. This award simply symbolises the power of the motto: ‘Never give up’.”
Malisa Pierri – healthcare worker
Malisa’s work has benefitted thousands of people with epilepsy in Wales. She has worked for over 15 years as an epilepsy specialist nurse in the Alan Richens Unit (epilepsy unit) in the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Malisa supports people with epilepsy through her regular clinics and over the phone. Beyond this, Malisa has developed and delivered a wide range of clinics and services that have improved health services for countless people with epilepsy.
Because of Malisa’s work, people who present to the Emergency Unit with a suspected seizure are now assessed by specialist nurses. These assessments are helping people get an epilepsy diagnosis sooner and start treatment. More than this though, Malisa led a project which has reduced the waiting time for someone’s first specialist epilepsy appointment to two weeks. This makes a crucial difference at an anxious time in people’s lives
Malisa runs epilepsy clinics for women who are pregnant. She also runs a prison epilepsy clinic, providing support that this vulnerable group of people would otherwise not get.
Malisa volunteers as a speaker at professional conferences and Epilepsy Action events all over Wales. She has spoken up for people with epilepsy in the Welsh Assembly, speaking about the importance of epilepsy specialist nurses.
Ann Sivapatham, Epilepsy Action Wales manager, said: “Malisa is a talented, hardworking and highly motivated epilepsy specialist nurse. She is a major driving force for improving health services for people with epilepsy in Wales. Malisa is a shining example of how nurses can improve the lives of their patients.”.
Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for all that you do!
You can read about all this year’s winners here:
Willow Garden Day Nursery – Early years education
Puss Bank School and Nursery – Primary School
Pontypridd High School – Secondary School
Simon Privett – Epilepsy Action volunteer
Bob Sutcliffe – Fundraiser
M&S Simply Food, Guiseley – Fundraising team
Truro support group – Epilepsy Action local group
Malisa Pierri – Healthcare worker
Derrick Kay – Raising awareness
Blackburn with Darwen borough Council – Employer
Bery Sharlot –Hilary Figg Award for long service to Epilepsy Action.