Young Epilepsy has honoured a former war-time student, who left £100,000 to the charity in her Will, by unveiling a commemorative plaque telling her story.

Former student, Mabel White from Sussex, lived on the Young Epilepsy campus between 1940 and 1943, during the Second World War. Mabel had epilepsy due to a childhood head injury and bequeathed the legacy because she felt that the care and education provided by Young Epilepsy St Piers had transformed her life.

Mabel remembered her time at Young Epilepsy vividly, recorded in a thank you letter sent to the organisation before she died: “My epilepsy had been caused by a fall at school… As it was the war years, most of the vegetables were grown on our land, and one my favourite jobs while we were on summer holidays was potato picking… I was 15 when I left Lingfield, and I am now a senior citizen and I have enjoyed the best of health in my grown up life. I feel that my life has been a rags to riches story, not in terms of money but in terms of health, which money cannot buy. And I say to you all thanks for the memories.”

Mabel’s generous gift, which has been used to make vast improvements to Young Epilepsy’s on-site farm, will help students with the condition and other complex needs gain work experience and personal development skills.

Set up over 100 years ago, Young Epilepsy’s St Piers Farm has always proved to be popular with the students who have severe and hard to manage epilepsy, some coping with up to 40 seizures a day and whose complex needs range from autism and severe learning difficulties, communication and mobility problems. However, up until now the farm could not be used in poor weather conditions, it was difficult for students with mobility problems to access and could only cater for 14 students at any one time.
Thanks to Mabel’s incredible kindness, and other generous donations from the public and local organisations totalling a quarter of a million pounds, the farm now comprises six log cabin classrooms, four animal shelters, a hay store and a wetlands sensory walkway, all of which enables up to 80 students to take vocational and non vocational courses in animal care and horticulture.

Lisa Farmer, Interim Chief Executive at Young Epilepsy, said: “Mabel White’s generous legacy propelled the renovation of Young Epilepsy’s Farm which will make a huge difference to a great number of young people. We wanted to mark this amazing gift and ensure that Mabel’s generosity would never be forgotten. We feel very proud that 70 years on from Mabel’s time with us, we are still changing young lives.”

It was thanks to the unexpected £100,000 legacy donation that Young Epilepsy was able to begin the farm expansion and open its facilities to disabled children across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. As well as public donations, other large donations were made by Surrey County Council’s Community Improvements Fund, Wates Family Enterprise Trust, Futures for Kids, Barbara Abbott and Southover Manor General Education Trust.

Watch a film about Mabel’s story, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFfFFUVRelc&feature=share&list=UU_Evf2T9igm78FAM0Fkxcbg OR to find out more about Young Epilepsy’s St Piers Farm, visit youngepilepsy.org.uk

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