NATIONAL Volunteer Day saw members of Epilepsy Penarth patrolling the town centre, raising awareness of this much misunderstood medical condition.

Epilepsy affects more than 180 people living in Penarth – and more than 900 across the Vale of Glamorgan.

The medical condition is responsible for more than 50 deaths a year in Wales – yet it is estimated that half of those deaths could be avoided, if more people understood the seriousness of epilepsy.

Most people know very little about the condition, until either they, or someone close to them, receives a diagnosis of epilepsy. Lesley Morris, of Epilepsy Wales, said, "I certainly didn’t understand much about epilepsy – but when I joined Epilepsy Wales and started to talk about my new job, suddenly there were five people in my own neighbourhood who told me about their epilepsy.

"I didn’t know they had epilepsy – one from birth, two diagnosed when young adults, one after a road accident, and one who had childhood absences but has now out-grown it.

"Even today, they don’t know about each other!" And that is one of the most difficult things about epilepsy – lack of understanding.

"Epilepsy Penarth wants that to change, to help people see beyond a diagnosis," added Lesley. "In this enlightened 21st century, people will accept people with physical disabilities, mental health issues, terminal illness – but epilepsy will still see people shy away, cross the road, find themselves ‘too busy to call’, and all because of their own fears."

If you would like to know more about epilepsy, join Epilepsy Penarth on the second Wednesday of the month at the Albert Road Community Centre, from 10am to noon.