May 3, 2012 | Brenkley News
Staff at property and energy firm the Banks Group have raised over £3,000 for charity Epilepsy Research UK after two colleagues tragically lost a loved one to the condition.
The overwhelming majority of people at the north east firm chose Epilepsy Research UK to be their annual charity after the death of 32 year-old Claire Whittle from sudden unexplained death from epilepsy (SUDEP).
Claire’s father Terry and brother Steven both work at Banks’ Shotton surface mine in Northumberland, and their colleagues were moved to help following the family’s loss.
Throughout the year, staff from across Banks joined in a range of activities that raised a total of £3,250, including making donations in lieu of Christmas cards, donating profits from a tuck shop and running the Redcar Half Marathon. They also enthusiastically supported a series of themed lunches including a curry day and a healthy salad and pasta day.
Terry Whittle says: “I’d only been with the company for nine months when we lost Claire and I was amazed at the support I got from my work mates.
“It was very hard for Claire and my family living with epilepsy. Her illness had a massive impact on Claire’s life and she had to rely heavily on my wife Brenda.
“She’d been ill since she was 14 and it was also very difficult for my son Steven and daughter Lindsey to cope.
“Steven and I were both very moved when staff chose to raise funds for Epilepsy Research UK and the support from people all over the company has been fantastic.”
Dr Andrew Trevelyan, Epilepsy Research UK Fellow at Newcastle University visited Banks’ Shotton site to meet with Terry and Steven and collect the cheque on behalf of the charity.
Dr Trevelyan says: “Research into epilepsy is not particularly well funded when you consider how common a condition it is, and Epilepsy Research UK has been extremely important both for my own research and for many other groups investigating this terrible disease.
“Using a combination of powerful technologies, including the latest microscopy techniques, we’re recording inside the brain during a seizure so we can begin to understand how a seizure spreads through the brain.
“Nobody really understands why an epileptic seizure begins, or how it spreads, but thanks to the backing of Epilepsy Research UK we are making real in-roads in this area of research.
“This will hopefully result in making significant clinical progress in addressing the disease and without the support of Epilepsy Research UK, it would have been very difficult for me to continue these studies.”
Epilepsy Research UK is the only national charity exclusively dedicated to funding independent research into the causes, prevention and treatment of epilepsy, and this year, in celebration of the charity’s 20th anniversary, it is awarding over £1 million in research grants for the first time.
These grants will go to projects around the UK that will address key aspects of epilepsy research and will have a real impact on the lives of people with epilepsy.
Terry Whittle adds: “I really enjoyed meeting Dr Trevelyan when we presented the cheque for the charity. It did me a lot of good hearing him talk so positively about the future and research into the disease, and it’s a comfort to me knowing other families might not have to go through the pain we did.
“I’m very grateful to everyone at Banks who helped raise money for the charity and especially to the women in the main office – I don’t see them very often and they went to a lot of effort for us, which means a lot.”
In addition to supporting Epilepsy Research UK, Banks’ staff also supported a number of other charitable activities including Comic Relief, Children in Need, Pink Friday and Race for Life.