The Epilepsy Action volunteer award 2019 goes to Simon Privett, who is involved with several coffee and chat groups in the South West of England.
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.”
Simon was nominated for the award by Epilepsy Action’s South West manager Mark McDaid. He said: “I believe that one of the major motivations for Simon’s volunteering is his own experiences of living with epilepsy. As Simon says, “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘Because of you, I didn’t give up’.”
Mark added: “Simon is particularly talented at engaging with outside professionals and organisations, such as the ambulance services, and bringing them into the groups. He has developed strong links with researchers at Exeter University and has ensured the voices of people with epilepsy are heard.”
Lottie Pagram has epilepsy and attends Simon’s Exeter group. She describes him as someone who is very understanding about the condition and is fantastic at supporting others who are affected by epilepsy. She said: “He is dedicated to making life for people with epilepsy and their families better. He is welcoming, friendly and as someone who has epilepsy, he is very understanding. It’s thanks to Simon’s encouragement that I have become a volunteer for Epilepsy Action and also discovered that I am not alone.”