The first meeting of the epilepsy 3 year project led by the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown, was held at the Holiday Inn, Coate Water on Thursday 9 September.
The meeting lasted for just under 2 hours and in that time a new community of friends were formed who had lots in common, but in particular they all lived with epilepsy, be it themselves or a close family member.
The meeting was well attended, with a mix of those who actually suffered some or multiple types of epilepsy and their supportive families and friends. There was a wide age range of sufferers from a 4 year old boy, to a retired gentleman. Some were still suffering from severe attacks; others were on medication to control the symptoms. This disease attacks all age groups of society.
The meeting was opened by President John Fisher and an outline was given of the conception of this project by Paul Parfrey. Rotarian Peter Goldsworthy outlined what Rotary is and the past achievements of the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown by helping the community of Swindon. After this the meeting was opened up to the floor and the attendees were invited to share their experiences of living and coping with epilepsy.
Pictured from left, Paul Parfrey, with Rotarians Bob Barrett and club president John Fisher
They did this with the help of other Rotarians, Bob Barrett, Tina Ellis and Rotarians’ wives Dianne Fisher and Lynn Parfrey. It was Dianne and Lynn and who actually came up with the idea to theme the 3 year project around epilepsy as Lynn’s niece Leona McKee is currently suffering from severe attacks of all types of epilepsy and she has witnessed how it affects the family and those around them.
It is fair to say that those representing the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown, were taken aback by the energy and enthusiasm of the audience in supporting the project. There were many emotions around the room, as prior to the meeting there were many cases of loneliness which appeared to be a general theme fuelled by what appears to be a lack of support to these people. This was the reason for the Club setting up the meeting to bring this community of people together.
There were many ideas of what was needed in and around Swindon to support epilepsy sufferers and their families; these are being collated by the Rotary Club for consideration and planning. Some appear to be straight forward and easy to implement, others much more complex and will require the support from professional bodies that have knowledge of epilepsy. It was however recognised that awareness of epilepsy, its symptoms and effects were little known and this needs to be one of the priorities for this project.
What this meeting achieved, was the bringing together of people suffering from epilepsy who in some cases felt very isolated in society because of the lack of support they were receiving. They were able to talk openly about their problems to each other and identify the support they needed.
Over the next three years we are sure that others in a similar position will come forward, and their ideas, together with those obtained from this initial meeting, will help in fulfilling a support group to help the sufferers of epilepsy in the Swindon area.
Those who attended will now hopefully form the backbone of this project and the vision of a support group for epilepsy. Their enthusiasm and willingness to help out in anyway possible will surely make this a successful project together with their ability to be active in fundraising when needed.
The Rotary Club will facilitate and provide guidance throughout the project and this will include setting up regular meetings to bring everyone together, initially on a monthly basis.
To kick start the fundraising, a ‘charity cash back curry night’ has been organised at the Bombay Lounge on Tuesday 26 October which will see the profits from the restaurant’s takings on the night donated to this project.
Pictured above, Paul and Lyn Parfrey, with epilepsy sufferer Leona McKee.
For more information and progress of the project, mail Paul Parfrey, junior vice president, Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown: