WORKERS at Banks’ Shotton surface mine have raised more than £3,000 for a charity close to the hearts of two of their colleagues.
The workforce raised the money for charity Epilepsy Research UK after choosing it to be their charity of the year after the death of 32-year-old Claire Whittle from sudden unexplained death from epilepsy (SUDEP).
Claire’s father Terry and brother Steven both work at the Shotton mine, and their colleagues were moved to help following the family’s loss.
Throughout the year, staff from across Banks joined in a range of activities that raised a total of £3,250, including making donations in lieu of Christmas cards, donating profits from a tuck shop and running the Redcar Half Marathon.
They also enthusiastically supported a series of themed lunches including a curry day and a healthy salad and pasta day.
Terry said: “I’d only been with the company for nine months when we lost Claire, and I was amazed at the support I got from my workmates.
“It was very hard for Claire and my family living with epilepsy.
“The illness had a massive impact on Claire’s life and she had to rely heavily on my wife Brenda.
“She’d been ill since she was 14, and it was also very difficult for my son Steven and daughter Lindsey to cope.
“Steven and I were both very moved when staff chose to raise funds for Epilepsy Research UK, and the support from people all over the company has been fantastic.”
Dr Andrew Trevelyan, Epilepsy Research UK Fellow at Newcastle University, visited Banks’ Shotton site to meet with Terry and Steven and collect the cheque on behalf of the charity.
Dr Trevelyan said: “Research into epilepsy is not particularly well funded when you consider how common a condition it is, and Epilepsy Research UK has been extremely important both for my own research and for many other groups investigating this terrible disease.
“Using a combination of powerful technologies, including the latest microscopy techniques, we’re recording inside the brain during a seizure so we can begin to understand how a seizure spreads through the brain.
“Nobody really understands why an epileptic seizure begins, or how it spreads, but thanks to the backing of Epilepsy Research UK we are making real in-roads in this area of research.
“This will hopefully result in making significant clinical progress in addressing the disease and without the support of Epilepsy Research UK, it would have been very difficult for me to continue these studies.”
The organisation is the only national charity exclusively dedicated to funding independent research into the causes, prevention and treatment of epilepsy, and this year, in celebration of the charity’s 20th anniversary, it is awarding more than £1m in research grants for the first time.
These grants will go to projects around the UK that will address key aspects of research and will have a real impact on the lives of people with epilepsy.
Terry added: “I really enjoyed meeting Dr Trevelyan when we presented the cheque.
“It did me a lot of good hearing him talk so positively about the future and research into the disease, and it’s a comfort to me knowing other families might not have to go through the pain we did.
“I’m very grateful to everyone at Banks who helped raise money for the charity, and especially to the women in the main office – I don’t see them very often and they went to a lot of effort for us, which means a lot.”
In addition to supporting Epilepsy Research UK, Banks’ staff also raised money for Comic Relief, Children in Need, Pink Friday and Race for Life.