A Clitheroe couple whose son suffers from epilepsy have been fund-raising today (Thursday) to help improve the lives of those affected by the condition and to raise awareness.
Clare and Richard Blatchford’s seven-year-old son Joseph was diagnosed with epilepsy just after his fifth birthday. Two years and eight different types of medication later, he is no closer to having it under control.
“My son suffers with this illness on a day-to-day basis,” explained Richard. “Since being diagnosed Joseph has had nearly 600 seizures.”
A pupil at St Michael and St John’s RC Primary School, Clitheroe, the condition impacts on Joseph’s everyday life at school.
“If he needs his rescue medication an ambulance has to be called into the school as it can stop him breathing,” explained mum Clare (36). “This happens on average every three months.”
Dad Richard (39), a self employed electrician, added: “Some of Joseph’s medication has had awful side effects including mood swings and making him fall asleep in class. It can affect his emotions resulting in Joseph having outbursts and rages. He can be happy one minute and crying the next. He has to be continuously watched and has missed lots of school.
“A lot of our time is spent focussing on Joseph. If he leaves the room to go to the toilet, if he’s gone for more than 10 minutes, it starts the alarm bells ringing in our heads.”
Clare and Richard praised the support they have received from Joseph’s school which is always ready to help with fund-raising.
Today, Purple Day, the world’s biggest epilepsy awareness day, the couple organised a “Wear Purple” for Epilepsy Day and pupils were asked to pay a £1 to wear non-uniform. These funds were boosted by a cake sale held during morning break at the school. Pupils on the School Council also made a range of posters to increase awareness about epilepsy.
All the funds raised through the event and a Just Giving page set up by the couple will raise money for Epilepsy Action.
The charity exists to improve the lives of everyone affected by epilepsy. As well as campaigning to improve epilepsy services it offers assistance in a number of different ways. These include a national network of branches, epilepsy awareness volunteers and freephone and email helplines.
So far the couple has raised £500 in donations through their Just Giving page.
Clare, who is originally from Wallasey, said one of the worst things about epilepsy is how unpredictable the condition is.
“He was at a birthday party at the weekend, but was only there five minutes then had to come home,” she said.
“He can sleep for hours after a seizure.”
Clare, who is an account manager for a flooring manufacturer, and Richard, a former pupil of Pendle Primary School and Ribblesdale High School, have two other children, Oliver (five) and Louis (eight months).
“The epilepsy doesn’t just impact on Joseph, but all of the family. His brother Oliver is a real ‘little hero’. He is very patient with Joseph and raises the alert when his brother has a seizure. He has stopped Joseph from falling in the past and hurting himself.”
Consultants have identified a mark on Joseph’s brain and he was scheduled for brain surgery last year. However, because Joseph’s brain is still growing, it is hard to pinpoint the exact area which would need operating on. Joseph will return to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in the summer to be assessed once again.
To make a donation to the couple’s Just Giving page visit: http://www.justgiving.com/clare-blatchford/|www.justgiving.com/clare-blatchford/}