A Leeds man, recently diagnosed with epilepsy, is lacing up his running shoes to complete this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. Joe Townsend will take on the challenging 26.2 mile run on Sunday 26 April to raise vital funds for national charity Epilepsy Action. The charity provides advice and support to the 600,000 people with epilepsy in the UK.
Joe, 25, is a broadcast journalist and decided to run for Epilepsy Action after being diagnosed with epilepsy just seven months ago. “Last September, after 25 years of near-total health, I had a seizure at work, at BBC Tees in Middlesbrough. A week later, I had another seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy and medicated for life. I was forced off work with no pay for a month, no running for two and unable to drive for at least a year.
This diagnosis has hugely affected my ability to work, even though I've had incredible support from colleagues and those close to me. If I hadn't had the option to work sparsely to safeguard my health and had the incredible support to live at home with my parents to cover the financial shortfall, I don't know what I'd have done.”
Joe is running at an elite level and hopes to raise £100,000 for Epilepsy Action. “I’m aiming to run under two hours and twenty minutes - the third-fastest time ever by someone from Leeds. I think I could raise enough money to make a real difference for people in the same position I was, suddenly and genuinely in need of financial support.”
The money Joe raises will help to support the charity’s work all over the UK. Epilepsy Action campaigns to improve epilepsy services and raise awareness of the condition. It also provides a national network of support groups, funds a specialist nurse scheme, holds regular regional events and has a freephone and email helpline.