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Epilepsy Action pays tribute to honorary life member, Sir Terry Wogan

2 Feb 2016


Sir Terry Wogan died on Sunday, January 31 at the age of 77. He had a short battle with cancer and died surrounded by his family.


Tributes to Sir Terry have poured on social media from a huge number of people. Colleagues from his time on BBC Radio 2 have published messages, including his successor on the breakfast show Chris Evans and close friend Tony Blackburn.

Friends, celebrities and members of the general public, as well as many of the organisations, charities and communities he was involved with, also paid tribute to the former presenter.

Apart from his work on BBC Radio 2, Sir Terry is very well known for his association with BBC Children in Need since it started in 1980. He was the host of the annual fundraising telethon for many years and remained a long-standing supporter. However, before Children in Need was set up, Sir Terry was still instrumental in supporting charities with a big focus on children.


Supporting children with epilepsy

In the 1970s and ‘80s, Sir Terry was very involved with many campaigns from the British Epilepsy Association (BEA, today working under the name Epilepsy Action). He promoted posters to raise public awareness of epilepsy, launched appeals and was an instrumental force at National Epilepsy Week events.

He launched a £50,000 appeal in 1979 to create a Children’s Holiday Unit at Crowthorne. This project aimed to give children with severe seizures and multiple disabilities a chance to experience a holiday, and it became a quick success. The unit provided hundreds of children with holidays between ’79 and ’83.

For all of his support and work with the charity, BEA awarded Sir Terry with the first Honorary Life Membership to the charity in 1980. Over the course of the 1980s, Sir Terry’s contributions to the BEA were numerous. He attended fundraising luncheons, helped to set up a celebrity charity cricket match at Crowthorne House and fronted a BEA Christmas appeal. He was also present at a number of National Epilepsy Week events and opened the association’s London office.

Epilepsy Action’s CEO, Phil Lee, said: “Our thoughts, sympathies and condolences go to Sir Terry Wogan’s family at this sad time.

“We are proud to be able to say that he was our honorary life member for 36 years. His great contribution to our charity and to people with epilepsy was in raising public awareness about the condition – especially at a time in the 1970s and ‘80s when epilepsy was so misunderstood and stigmatised. He did this simply by lending us his name and personality; by endorsing our work and our cause as his own.

“He also raised tens of thousands of pounds for us over the years which supported research projects and holidays for children with severe epilepsy. He has our thanks for everything he did for us and for the huge difference he made.”

As well as his other work, Sir Terry was also very well known for commentating on the UK coverage of the Eurovision song contest, becoming an anticipated staple of the show. He appeared on a number of TV programmes and hosted various chat shows in the 1970s and ‘80s, including Wogan and Wogan Now and Then.


In pictures

Summer, 1977. Sir Terry Wogan is pictured with the children who featured on a BEA poster aimed at raising awareness of epilepsy – a stigmatised and misunderstood condition at the time

Autumn 1978. Sir Terry attends National Epilepsy Week. Over the years he attended many of these events, especially where the focus was on children’s health and wellbeing

Autumn 1979. Sir Terry launches a £50,000 appeal for a Children’s Holiday Unit at Crowthorne

Winter 1979. The holiday unit appeal sees rapid success and Sir Terry attends to open it for its first holiday goers. At the opening, he said: “People like me can only lend our names and provide publicity for those who do the work. I’m proud to be associated with BEA and, as long as my name has any value, I’m happy to use it in support of the wonderful work they do.”

Autumn 1980. Lord Hastings presents Sir Terry with an Honorary Lifetime Member of BEA award

Autumn 1981. Sir Terry attends the send-off of Hartlepool Group Chairman Arthur Hauxwell on his fundraising marathon walk at National Epilepsy Week

Winter 1987. Sir Terry attends the opening of the BEA London office at Tooley Street

Spring 2011. Sir Terry sends in his doodle to be auctioned off to raise money for National Doodle Day


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