An award-nominated radio show, a very active parent support group and two national epilepsy information booklets for children resulting from local fundraising are just three of the highlights community resource officer Margaret Bassett has from Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association's ten years of existence in the midlands.
Though the organisation has been in operation since the late 60s, its midland base in Tullamore was only set up in 2002. Now, just one month shy of the local group's ten year anniversary, Margaret looks back at her years at its helm and forward to what's yet to come.
"I'm actually gobsmacked it has been ten years," Margaret said. "It seems like only yesterday that we set up shop in Offaly Historical Society."
Brainwave is dedicated to promoting an optimal quality of life for people living with epilepsy, and on any given day can provide information, support, education, practical aids and more. In September 2002 Midland Brainwave came into existence, and since then has helped well over 1,000 epilepsy sufferers. "It's all about helping the person and supporting the person with epilepsy," Margaret explained.
In her role as community resource officer Margaret is based in Tullamore and always available to those needing information and advice. She also provides an outreach service in Athlone, Mullingar, Longford and Portlaoise.
One of Margaret's most recent highlights is a radio show with local station Midlands 103 she was involved with called "The Parish". The programme saw four epilepsy sufferers talk openly about their condition and one parent speak about their child. "It was just fantastic," Margaret said of the programme. "It was groundbreaking in so many ways. It's not every day you have four people in one room talking openly about their epilepsy. It was harsh at times, it was very funny at times but more than anything it was real."
Going back a short few years Margaret also remembers fondly fundraising done in the name of her own daughter Lisa, who died of SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy). In 2007 a local sponsored walk led to funds being raised to produce two booklets for children with epilepsy entitled "My Lights Go Out" and "What Every Child Should Know". "I'm very proud that was done," Margaret said. "That was absolutely massive. They originated in the midlands but they're national booklets."
Looking to the future Margaret is delighted to continue to work with Brainwave patron and sufferer DJ Rick O'Shea. "He's a great role model," she explained. She's also looking forward to the organisation's national conference, which takes place in Dublin next month. "It's on September 8 in the Aisling Hotel just across the road from Heuston Station," she said. "If you can come to it, please do." The conference, which costs €25 for Brainwave members and €35 for non-members with lunch included, will see all the most up to date information delivered to attendees. Neurologist Colin Doherty will also be in attendance. He's also the man heading up the roll out of a national epilepsy programme that Margaret says is going to change people's lives.
Celebration plans are currently in the working for Brainwave's local ten year anniversary. Margaret said the occasion will definitely be marked however, whether through one big event or a series of smaller events. "At the moment I have just sent out feelers to people and I've got a great response," she said. "We will definitely mark the occasion."
Anyone with celebration ideas or who are looking to get in touch with Brainwave can contact Margaret by calling 057 9346790 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.