Sue Wild is an Accredited Volunteer for Epilepsy Action in Northern Ireland. Sue had been a university lecturer in Manchester, teaching business strategy and marketing for service industries. Although she had no medical knowledge, Sue had some limited experience with epilepsy and thought that through volunteering she might have something to offer.
“I had prior experience of the impact of the epilepsy. I was close to a family who tragically lost a son through the condition at the age of 32. I saw first-hand the impact that could have on a family.
“In addition I had a student who occasionally had seizures in my lectures, usually on a Monday morning in a packed lecture of over 150 students. Her friends were more than able to deal with the situation and we all carried on as normal. It occurred to me that I knew very little of the illness and that she would not be the only person with epilespy in the faculty. Yet we as staff had no training or information.”
Sue began training to volunteer after she moved back to Northern Ireland, encouraged by her husband Jim, a consultant neurologist and epilepsy expert.
Having completed her volunteer course, Sue noticed that Jim was behaving strangely. “He was having small seizures, and struggling with his memory. By March 2014 he was in the Royal Victoria hospital and diagnosed with a very unusual form encephalitis, resulting in seizures.
“I then took on the role of carer as he couldn’t drive for a year and there were a lot of hospital appointments. I never really got to use my volunteering skills until 2017. However I think I have a much better insight into epilepsy and the impact it can have.
“Jim has now retired and also works as a volunteer, so it fits in well with the rest of our lives.”
So far, Sue has given one epilepsy awareness training session for the South West Further Education College. Her second training session will take place at Queen’s University on 6 June.
“Higher education is an environment I am very familiar with, so I very much enjoyed giving my first presentation at a college. The feedback was very good, and it was great to speak to such a kind and interested audience. I am very excited about my next session at Queen’s University.”
As well as her epilepsy awareness training, Sue previously helped with an awareness stand at Queen’s University. Held at the university’s Freshers’ Fair, this event helped develop a relationship with the university. Sue is now working with the Disability Services at Queen’s University to launch a student-specific coffee and chat group. Plans are to launch the group in September 2018, which will meet in the Student’s Union, and Sue is likely to be the volunteer to facilitate the group.
If you would like to become a volunteer like Sue, visit epilepsy.org.uk/volunteer