A Dalkeith mum has embarked on an ambitious tour of the United Kingdom to raise awareness of childhood epilepsy.
Ann Maxwell, a mother of three and co-founder of The Muir Maxwell Trust, one of the UK’s leading charities for paediatric epilepsy, has launched MORE – Mum on the Run for Epilepsy and is planning to talk to school pupils across the country in an attempt to ‘demystify’ the condition. Along the way, she will be fundraising at local Tesco stores and businesses.
Despite being diagnosed with a brain tumour, Ann is running from school to school, helping pupils to understand epilepsy and inspiring them to make the most of their lives.
The MORE tour started at Portobello High School in Edinburgh before calling on Loretto School in Musselburgh. Over the next few months it will visit Fife, Stirling, Perth, Glasgow and Orkney, before heading into England in March. The project will culminate with Ann running in the Virgin Money London Marathon in April 2014.
Ann, set up the Muir Maxwell Trust ten years ago after her son, Muir was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome – a severe form of epilepsy that at its worst causes profound developmental delay. Since 2003, the Muir Maxwell Trust has raised around £8 million pounds enabling the Trust to fund the world’s first DNA service dedicated exclusively to testing children in the UK suspected of having complex epilepsy syndromes. The Trust has also opened the Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre at Edinburgh University, which investigates and researches the causes and treatments for severe epilepsy.
The Muir Maxwell Trust has also provided more than 2500 potentially life-saving epilepsy alarms to families across the UK. Recipients of the alarms range from three month old babies through to 21 year olds.
The MORE campaign is already gathering support, including Dr Andrew Murray, GP, author and endurance runner.
He said: “Well done to Ann for taking on such a gruelling challenge. She is proof that anything is possible with the right frame of mind, commitment and determination.
“Her mission to deliver clarity on the subject of epilepsy is also to be applauded and I am sure that school pupils across the UK will learn a lot and be inspired by her. It is important that people are able to understand the condition better. Great inroads are being made into the causes and treatments, but we still have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, Ann’s fundraising efforts will continue to support further research into childhood epilepsy. She is an inspiration to us all.”
Ann Maxwell said: “Running is a challenge for me now because of the side effects of my brain tumour but I just had to find a way of reaching young people and spreading awareness of childhood epilepsy. Now that the campaign has begun I too am inspired by the young people I am meeting and their interest in our cause. A number of schools have already committed to fundraise for us further to my visit but that is not essential. Awareness and understanding of epilepsy is the main aim of the mission. In the end fundraising will be the inevitable result of that mission if we are successful.
“Epilepsy is everywhere. I am deeply moved by some of the stories I have heard already from pupils and teachers who have encountered epilepsy. The problem is we simply do not talk about it enough and that impedes research and understanding of the condition. This face to face high profile campaign that is focusing on the young will hopefully help to change that.”
In 2013 Ann Maxwell was named Tesco Charity Mum of the Year having been selected from thousands of entries from across the UK.
You can follow Ann’s MORE tour on Twitter, @MuirMaxwell, or on Facebook.
The Muir Maxwell Trust was established in 2003 to provide practical support to families struggling to cope with their child’s difficult epilepsy. Since then, it has raised more than £7m and is now one of the most significant children’s charity raising funds for paediatric epilepsy in the UK. Find out more at www.muirmaxwelltrust.com