The first of the recipients was Dr Richard Appleton, a Merseyside neurologist at Alder Hey, who has made an outstanding personal contribution to improving the quality of life of children with epilepsy. The second award recognised Beryl Sharlot, who has dedicated much of her life to supporting and campaigning for people with epilepsy.
The Lord Hastings Award was set up by Epilepsy Action in 1990 to recognise outstanding personal contributions to people with epilepsy. So far, it has only been awarded to 13 people since it was created.
Upon introducing the award winners, Phil Lee, Epilepsy Action’s chief executive, said: “It’s very unusual, but we have two Lord Hastings Awards this year. These are the most prestigious gifts that the charity can bestow upon anybody. They are reserved for the very best that we know. Needless to say, the recipients of this award are very special people.”
Dr Richard Appleton
Dr Appleton’s work has had a huge impact on the treatment and support of children with epilepsy and their families. He helped to establish the first full-time nurse specialist post in paediatric epilepsy in the UK and the Paediatric Neurosciences Foundation at Alder Hey hospital.
Dr Appleton also set up the first transitional epilepsy clinic in the UK, helping teenage patients transition from child to adult services. He has provided professional and expert advice to a wide number of national and international bodies.
He received his award from a former patient Carl Foster. Carl was under the care of Dr Appleton from the age of 14, when his seizures started. At its worst, Carl’s epilepsy was causing him to have about 10 absence seizures a week.
Dr Appleton guided him through his life with seizures, making several changes to Carl’s medication until his seizures stopped. Carl said: “Dr Appleton was a brilliant support to me and my family when my epilepsy was really bad. It always felt like he cared and paid attention. His knowledge about epilepsy and how it can be treated was amazing.
“When my seizures were really bad, I was missing a lot of school and the side-effects of some of the medications meant I was quite spaced out. Dr Appleton’s great tenacity and knowledge meant that it wasn’t too long before we found the combination of epilepsy medicines that work for me.
“Now, working for Epilepsy Action, I can see how lucky I was to receive such amazing care. I am so pleased that he has won the Lord Hastings Award. It is recognition of what a fantastic doctor he is. If I had carried on having as many seizures as I was, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”
Dr Appleton attributed his successes along his career to teamwork, highlighting the support of his team at Alder Hey, the team at Epilepsy Action and his family. He said: “I’m just a name, just the tip of the iceberg. The people underneath that you don’t see or hear about – they have supported me for many years. Without their support, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Beryl has been working to improve the lives of people with epilepsy for nearly three decades. She has been a voice for people with epilepsy in the West Midlands, and all over the UK.
As a member of Epilepsy Action since 1987 and a member of the charity’s Council of Management since 1989, she has made a huge contribution to the charity’s work. Most recently, Beryl has been the chair of the Council of Management since 2013.
Beryl travels extensively across the Midlands to deliver epilepsy awareness sessions, and was also instrumental in founding the West Midlands Epilepsy Forum.
|Beryl Sharlot with son Michael and daughter-in-law Karen|
Beryl has a very personal connection to epilepsy. Five of her four children and six grandchildren developed epilepsy when they were babies. Tragically, her eldest child did not regain consciousness following an extended seizure (status epilepticus). This has made Beryl even more passionate about improving the lives of people with epilepsy.
Beryl said: “As soon as I joined my local branch of Epilepsy Action in the 1980s, I became aware that other people’s experiences with epilepsy and concerns about the condition mirrored by own. I became more and more determined to make a difference.
“I am thrilled to receive the Lord Hastings award. To be considered among the list of previous winners who have all done so much for people with epilepsy is a real honour. Epilepsy has been a big part of my life and I’m really pleased that I have been able to help a few people along the way.”