History of Epilepsy Action: 1950-2010

Published: April 15 2008
Last updated: September 28 2022

For thousands of years people didn’t understand what epilepsy was. They were scared of it and they treated anyone with epilepsy as an outcast.

More knowledge and understanding in the first half of the 20th century meant that attitudes began to improve. But change was slow and life was still very hard for most people with epilepsy.

At this time, pioneers like Joseph Tylor Fox argued that an organisation was needed to represent epilepsy and the interests of everyone who was affected by the condition. Less than one year after his death, the organisation that he had long called for finally came into being. In 1950, the British Epilepsy Association (BEA) was launched with the purpose of changing public attitudes towards epilepsy and improving people’s lives.

Since then, thousands of people have helped to build a proud history. Life today is still difficult for many people with epilepsy, but BEA’s achievements over the years mean that today things are much better than they might have been.

Epilepsy Action has always represented the interests of people with epilepsy and their families and carers. In practice, this means protecting people and trying to make their lives better. Over the years, we have been responsible for so many changes for the better. These include changes:

  • in the law
  • in public awareness
  • in social attitudes
  • in medical practice
  • in scientific knowledge.

In short, Epilepsy Action has touched and improved the lives of millions of people.

We have come a long way since 1950. But the work is not yet finished. Epilepsy Action will continue to do its best to meet the needs and encourage the aspirations of all people with epilepsy and those with an interest in the condition.

Although we don’t know what the future holds, we do know from our history that we can shape and influence what will happen. We know that Epilepsy Action makes a difference. Today, the world is a better place for people with epilepsy because of what Epilepsy Action has done in the past. Tomorrow the world will be even better because of what we do today.

All we want is to live in a society where everyone understands epilepsy and where attitudes towards the condition are based on fact not fiction. We will not stop until that day comes.

To celebrate our Diamond Jubilee in 2010, we produced our ‘History Wall’, looking back at all the major events and milestones in Epilepsy Action’s history.