It was with great sadness that we heard that Mrs Hilary Figg had passed away on 26 December 2012. Hilary was our most experienced and longest serving trustee and volunteer. Her membership of the charity’s governing body, the Council of Management, spanned across six decades.
Providing invaluable support
Hilary’s extraordinary commitment to the British Epilepsy Association began when her eldest child, Paul, was diagnosed with uncontrollable epilepsy. She and her husband Maurice went looking for help and advice. They got this when they discovered the British Epilepsy Association. This experience led Hilary to help set up an affiliated local support group and social club for people with epilepsy and their carers in Hull in 1964. In May 1967 this became the Association’s Kingston upon Hull and District Branch.
For the next 41 years, until it closed in 2008, the branch provided invaluable support for local people, raised awareness about the condition and raised money for the charity. Hilary was always the driving force. She personally operated a local Epilepsy Helpline for the branch and in 1995, along with husband Maurice, her tireless work was recognised with the charity’s branch member of the year award.
A very broad range of interests
One of the early projects Hilary got involved with was helping the late Mabel Trevorrow MBE to run summer holidays for people with epilepsy. She did this for more than 13 years. For many people this was their first ever opportunity to have a holiday.
As a result of working with people with epilepsy, Hilary developed a broader interest in the problems being experienced by people with disabilities in general and their families. These ranged from education to employment to day care and residential care. She helped to set up a charity called Younger Disabled Concern. In her later years she was a leader of the Pensioners Rights Campaign in Hull calling for better health care and pensions and an end to discrimination against older people.
Hilary’s reputation in her home city of Kingston upon Hull was growing. She was invited to serve on the Board of Kingston Training Workshop, which trained young people with low expectations and with few academic achievements to obtain employment. She voluntarily worked with the Council for Voluntary Service and was a member of the Consultative Committee set up by the local Social Services Department.
Hilary was passionate about raising the public’s awareness about epilepsy. She made frequent appearances on local radio and in the local press, challenging peoples’ misconceptions and their misplaced fears about epilepsy. She became an accredited speaker and counselor for the charity. She fought hard and successfully to represent the views of people with epilepsy and their carers in talks with the local health service about local epilepsy services.
Fundraising was Hilary’s other great passion. She had a natural flair for raising money. When coupled with her immense energy there was no stopping her. Through the Hull Branch and independently Hilary was responsible for raising hundreds of thousands of pounds. She didn’t just raise money for British Epilepsy Association. She also raised money for other local good causes including for the residential home where her son Paul lived.
She was a founder member of the Christmas Charity Card shop in Hull, which she managed for six years. She opened a small charity shop to sell goods to raise money for epilepsy in a poor area of the city. She did this long before such charity shops became fashionable. She later opened another shop in the city centre, which generated a lot of interest and support. The money raised by these shops was used to pay for research into epilepsy and to help fund the Association’s summer holiday programme.
A long-serving trustee
Hilary served for a total of 38 years as a trustee at the very heart of the charity. She began her time on the Council of Management as the representative member of the Hull Branch. She held this position for six years from 1967 to 1973. During this time she also served as a member of the Council’s Executive Committee. Hilary left Council when branch representatives were discontinued in 1973 but she returned as an elected member in 1981. She remained on the Council for the next 32 years without a break, being re-elected every three years right up until she passed away. All together she attended 152 Council meetings as an elected member. She served on numerous Council sub-committees covering such things as finance, strategic policy, education and children, research and corporate governance.
In June 2002, Hilary was awarded Epilepsy Action’s highest honour – the Lord Hastings Award – for her outstanding service to people with epilepsy (see photo, right).
Hilary Figg’s life was selflessly dedicated to helping others – people with epilepsy, their families and their carers. There are thousands of people whose lives were touched and made better in some way by Hilary. She was by any measure a most remarkable lady.
Our thoughts and sympathies go to Hilary’s husband Maurice and to their children Paul, Martin and Vivienne and their families.
Here several people share their thoughts about Hilary
I was so sad to hear about Hilary's death. She has been a shining light for Epilepsy Action's work and a great advocate for people with epilepsy. I have many fond memories of her and her husband over the years - the place won't be the same without their regular visits. She will be sorely missed! Sue Mitchell
Condolences to Maurice and family. Hilary will be missed by everyone. Greg Smith
RIP Hilary. Working with Maurice, to support people with epilepsy and their families since 1964 - wow that is really inspiring. Thank you for your dedication. Nicole
I was so very sad to hear about Hilary passing away and although we were aware that she was seriously ill it was still a shock to know she was no longer with us. She was a wonderful lady - her and Maurice have devoted their lives to helping people with epileispy and their families. On a personal note she always sat on my right at Council meetings and I will miss the occasional humourous whispered comment meant just for me. She will be sadly missed by all on Council. Judith Davies
Hilary was a much-loved and respected member of Council who will be missed greatly. The Lord Hastings Award reflects her dedication to improving the lives of people with epilepsy over the decades. We all learned so much from her experiences and hard work. I am certain that, in months and years to come, we will be asking ourselves how Hilary would respond to a particular issue! She and Maurice were a brilliant team and our thoughts have been with him at this time. It was a privilege to work with and be a friend of a lovely, funny, intelligent, strong-willed lady. June Massey
Hilary was a great ambassador for epilepsy and will be missed by everyone she was involved with. Morina Clarke
What a lovely, lovely lady! I for one shall miss seeing and chatting to her on a regular basis and likewise her husband Maurice who spent many hours patiently waiting for Hilary whilst she attended meetings, his wealth of knowledge on many subjects is fascinating; a very interesting man to speak with, they will both be very much missed at New Anstey House and my heart goes out to Maurice Julie Fletcher
We both know Hilary & Maurice from the holidays years ago where we met together and became one. Condolences to Maurice and family for the loss of Hilary from us both. I have just lost my mother aged 85 at the end of November, so I know just how you feel at this moment in time.
Maurice, you were a gem on those holidays, full of inspiration and always laughing, would like to keep in touch but unfortunately other than the area I do not know. We also remember Paul on the holdiays as well.
They were the good old days of Epilepsy and it is a shame that once Mrs trevorrow passed away they did not continue. They were the greatest times and now the greatest loss of all time for people with Epilepsy.
Please accept our condolences from Ray who as you probably remember from Birmingham & Valerie originally from London now living in Birmingham with Ray. Married in 1984. Without the holidays I would not have met my other half. Valerie Egan