Smiles and tears over Acle epilepsy fundraiser’s loving legacy

Malcolm Porter, of the British Epilepsy Association pictured with a Norfolk Epilepsy Clinic Appeal b

Malcolm Porter, of the British Epilepsy Association pictured with a Norfolk Epilepsy Clinic Appeal board. - Credit: Archant

One man's crusade to improve services for epilepsy sufferers has resulted in a £130,000 donation that will pay entirely for a new piece of equipment.

Dr Jeff Cochius is pictured with Freda Porter and her daughter Julie Porter. Mrs Porter was presente

Dr Jeff Cochius is pictured with Freda Porter and her daughter Julie Porter. Mrs Porter was presented with a certificate of appreciation as a thank you for a £130,000 legacy, money raised by epilepsy crusade Malcolm Porter who died in 2012. - Credit: Archant

Master builder Malcolm Porter of Acle made it his mission to help people with the condition - a fundraising thermometer outside his Pyebush home becoming a landmark sight.

Sadly he died before he could see the difference the money had made.

However his proud family and dozens of well-wishers packed the lecture hall at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to celebrate his achievement and thank him for his efforts over 26 years.

The bequest means people with the condition will no longer have to travel to London or Cambridge thanks to the new unit called the Epilepsy Monitoring Service.

The money will not only pay for the machine but also for a clinician to operate it, greatly improving the service that people with epilepsy receive across Norfolk.

Mr Porter's widow Freda said around 16 people travelled in a mini-bus from Acle to the event where they were joined by many others.

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She said: 'It was a very proud but very emotional evening. Malcolm would have loved it. We have done all we can and while I know it was not quite what he wanted it will help. The evening was well-supported and people kept coming up to me saying they were astounded, but there have been a lot of good people that have helped.

'He would have been pleased to know that they are going to get this piece of equipment and there will be a little plaque.

'At least they have got the money now to buy one of these machines and it will save people a lot of travelling.'

Mrs Porter, 74, said that having experienced a mental heath issue himself and seen work colleagues struggle with the stigma of epilepsy he resolved to do something about it.

As well as tackling ignorance around the condition his dream was to set up a clinic in Norfolk.

He began the Norfolk Epilepsy Clinic Appeal in 1989, drawing in a raft of helpers who shared his vision, and operating an unofficial 24-hour helpline service for people, flying off to help at the drop of a hat.

A carpenter and builder by trade he developed mesothelioma and died in December 2012 aged 74.

Determined that his legacy should not be swallowed by paperwork his family, including his daughters Julie Porter and Sue Little, were delighted to have settled on a tangible gift.

The celebration event included a talk by Dr Jeff Cochius who paid tribute to Mr Porter talking about his life and reasons for starting the appeal.

He also highlighted some events which raised the money over the years and talked generally about the condition, early pioneers, and the types of modern technology and medication/treatments available.

Julie Porter said: 'It was a poignant, but lovely evening for us all.'

The couple's son Melvyn Porter, a Coltishall builder, was stuck in traffic and only caught the tail-end of the event.