Donald was evacuated in WWII from Birmingham to a small Northamptonshire village, where his mother had family connections. His epilepsy began, we believe, when he joined the Navy for National Service. From then on it blighted his life as his seizures and blackouts were misunderstood as a mental deficiency. The medication he was prescribed in the 1950S, phenobarbitone, was very rudimentary and did not prevent him from having falls. Because of it he never married and lost his job as a painter and decorator-a trade in which he followed his father. After his parents died in his thirties he lived alone. Fortunately , his sister, Peggy, lived in the same village and supported him practically and emotionally. But otherwise he remained socially isolated.
Regrettably Donald did not benefit from any advances in treatment for epilepsy. No GP explored alternatives or revised his prescription. Indeed, as he became less capable of telephoning for renewed prescriptions he would have been without medication but for his sister. It is possible that his moods and erratic behaviour were related to unimaginative medical treatment. It was only in the last four years, and due to being detained because of advancing dementia, that more appropriate medication was prescribed. Despite these disadvantages Don did live to 78. Our hope is that research into the treatment of epilepsy will lead to a superior quality of life for others and honour his history and memory.”
– Meryl Thompson, December 2014
To make a donation to Donald’s memorial fund, please use the link below.