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30th Jun 2016
A Merseyside neurologist, who has dedicated his career to treating children with epilepsy, has been recognised with a prestigious national award. Dr. Richard Appleton, a consultant in paediatric neurology at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation, has been awarded the Lord Hastings award by national charity Epilepsy Action.
The award recognises Dr Appleton’s outstanding personal contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of children with epilepsy and their families. Dr. Appleton was presented with his award by a previous patient Carl Foster, 28. Carl, from Wigan, now works for Epilepsy Action.
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. One of these changes was instrumental to Carl’s life, stopping Carl’s seizures seemingly overnight when he was 16, just months before he sat his GCSEs. Carl went on to gain a degree from the University of Leeds before starting to work for Epilepsy Action as a fundraising events officer.
Dr. Appleton’s work at Alder Hey has made a huge impact on the lives of children with epilepsy. He helped to establish the first full-time nurse specialist post in paediatric epilepsy within the UK, initially funded by the Roald Dahl Foundation. He also established the first transitional epilepsy clinic in the UK, managing teenage patients’ transition from child to adult services. In 2004, Dr. Appleton was instrumental in establishing the Paediatric Neurosciences Foundation at Alder Hey hospital, another first in the UK.
Dr. Appleton has also influenced epilepsy care all over the country, as well as further afield . He provides professional and expert advice to a wide number of national and international bodies and agencies. These include the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the European Medicines Agency. Dr. Appleton provides invaluable support to Epilepsy Action as a member of the charity’s Health and Clinical Advisory Panel (2001-present day) and Council of Management (1994-1997).
The Lord Hastings Award was set up in 1990 to recognise outstanding personal contributions to people with epilepsy. Since it was created by Epilepsy Action, it has only been awarded to eleven people.
Phillip Lee, chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said: “Richard Appleton’s contribution to improving the lives of children and young people with epilepsy is immense and ranges across so many touch points – from clinical practice to research to education to service development and so on. He is a most deserving recipient of the 2016 Lord Hastings Award.”
Presenting the award, Carl Foster 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 a 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.”
Gill Foster, Carl’s mum, said: “Dr Appleton always went the extra mile and having him as Carl’s doctor made the whole process a lot easier to manage. You can tell that he really cares about his patients and he was always very approachable whenever we had any questions. I’m so pleased Dr Appleton is being recognised for all his great work and I would like to thank him personally for making such a huge difference to Carl’s life.”
Dr Richard Appleton, Consultant Neurologist at Alder Hey said: “I was delighted, honoured and humbled to receive the Lord Hastings award, and particularly from one of my ‘old’ patients who I had not seen for many years and who has achieved so much in this time. Epilepsy Action is the country’s foremost charity for people with epilepsy and it has been a privilege and a pleasure to have worked with them on many different projects over the past 25 years”.
Epilepsy affects one in every 103 people in the UK alone and 87 people are diagnosed with the condition every day. Last year Epilepsy Action directly helped over 1.4 million people through its range of services including the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050, branch network, specialist nurse scheme and award-winning website, epilepsy.org.uk
Alder Hey Children's Charity