Epilepsy Scotland – 4 November 2019


Lesslie Young is Chief Executive of Epilepsy Scotland since 2009, having joined the charity’s training department in 2006. Canadian born, she lives in Sorn and travels throughout the UK on behalf of Epilepsy Scotland. She is a qualified general nurse and midwife.

Lesslie delivered a hugely informative, yet apparently unscripted, talk to the members on the challenges facing epilepsy sufferers today. There are 42 different kinds of epilepsy, each exhibiting different symptoms, of which seizures is only one. In Scotland, there are 55,000 people affected, 4000 in Ayrshire, and the condition presents the greatest risk to the very young and the elderly. Depression and related illnesses are a common side effect of epilepsy and there is frequently a “ripple effect” through families striving to cope with the stigma which is still unfortunately common.

Lesslie described the essential work being undertaken by Epilepsy Scotland in supporting sufferers across the country. Despite being a small, 50-strong organisation dependant on fund-raising for 80% of its income (government support currently contributes a steadily reducing 20%) the charity is active on many fronts. With Lesslie’s guidance, it has effected a new business model enabling the private, public and third sectors to work more collaboratively to provide a service for people with epilepsy in an area where none previously existed.

Next year will see a pilot study commenced in Ayrshire to increase confidence and social inclusion of epilepsy sufferers, especially children. In an effort to educate authorities on dealing with cases where patients unwittingly break the law Epilepsy Scotland has developed a closer working relationship with the Judicial Studies Institute, COPFS and Police Scotland. Lesslie herself sits on the Criminal Justice Disability Advisory Group and is a member of the Institute of Directors and the West of Scotland Vistage Group for CEOs.

In summing up Lesslie highlighted the growing shortage of good support workers which she attributed in part to the “Brexit affect”.

Alistair Tyre congratulated Lesslie on her powerful presentation and said that the new cooperative initiatives being pioneered by Epilepsy Scotland were commendable.

To learn more and to donate, go to  https://www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk/about-us/ .