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Father's Day without James


17 June 2017

Our Vice President John Hirst discusses losing his son to SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) in 2002 and how it affects him on Father's Day.

Father's Day in our household is much the same as anybody else's. My son and daughter are grown up - Matt late thirties and Sophie just 30. The cards come more or less on time and the presents get dafter every year as I get 'harder to buy for. Except I get 3 presents and an extra card because they always buy something that James would have wanted to give me - normally the daftest of all.

They buy it because James died of SUDEP when he was 21 and it's as much an act of sugared remembrance as a gift for Dad.

The day I walked into James' room to wake him so he could drive me to the airport and found him dead, is engraved in my mind in a way that nothing else can be, but it's in the small things around birthdays, anniversaries and, yes, Father's Day that he pops into my mind - gentle and painful at the same time.

He is not here to wish me happy Father's Day but he is present at all times and on Sunday we'll take and extra drink for absent friends and we will all be thinking of James when we do.

The Hirst family set up the James Hirst Research Fund to raise money for research into the causes and treatment of epilepsy.  The fund has supported Epilepsy Society, most recently for our 3T MRI Scanner and our research programme. Find out more about our research projects