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Epilepsy Society joins the Queen for royal birthday party

It couldn't have been wetter or better - that was the verdict on Sunday when Epilepsy Society's 'heroes' and guests joined 10,000 people on The Mall in London for the Patron's Lunch celebrating Her Majesty the Queen's 90th birthday.

Earlier this year the Chalfont-St-Peter based charity ran a campaign, supported by local law firm BP Collins LLP, to find five epilepsy heroes to attend the lunch which took the form of a typically British street party, stretching the length of The Mall.

The Queen is patron to more than 600 charities, including Epilepsy Society, and the lunch was a celebration of the support and service she has given to the community during her 63-year reign.

But as with many typically British events, four hours of relentless rain left guests soaked to the skin, picnicking in ponchos among puddles that formed on the trestle tables lining both sides of the Mall.

Epilepsy hero Chrissy Thomas and husband Dave enjoy an ice cream in the rain.

Epilepsy hero Layla Reid with mum, Sarah and grandad, Larry.

The charity's epilepsy heroes refused to be beaten by the weather though. Spirits remained high and a cheer went up when the sun finally broke through as the Queen and members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, joined the party.

Epilepsy heros, Sam Downie, left, and Jo Hardiman with her mum, Sue.

Nicola Swanborough, content editor at Epilepsy Society said: 'Princess Anne and her husband Tim Laurence were particularly pleased to meet our heroes and their guests. Princess Anne had visited us in 2010 to open one of our care homes, Queen Elizabeth House, so she has personal experience of the service we provide.

'Tim Laurence hadn't been with his wife on that occasion so he was surprised and interested to hear that Epilepsy Society is based in Chalfont St Peter rather than London.

'It was a real pleasure and a privilege to join the party and celebrate the Queen's patronage of Epilepsy Society.'

Layla's special message for Her Majesty the Queen inside a copy of Layla's book, Epilepsy for Kids. On the right, Princess Anne talks to the crowd.

Among Epilepsy Society's heroes were Jo Hardiman and her mum Sue. Jo, 20, who has a rare form of epilepsy, said: 'The day has been amazing. I cannot put into words just how great it has been.'

And mum, Sue, added: 'It has been a once in a lifetime experience to see all the British people come together and enjoy the day in spite of the weather. I have just said to my daughter, Jo, "Thank you so much for inviting me. It has been really special." '

Sarah Reid also attended with her epilepsy hero daughter Layla, 11. Last year Sarah had surgery for her epilepsy and Layla has always helped to care for her mum. She has also written a book about what it is like to have a parent with epilepsy.

Sarah said: 'Layla does so much to support me. It is lovely for her to realise how grateful I am for her support. It is an absolute honour for Layla to have been chosen as an epilepsy hero.'

Our epilepsy heroes enjoy their picnic lunch on The Mall.

Ian Hopkins, chief executive officer at BP Collins commented: 'When the Epilepsy Society asked us to be support the patrons lunch we couldn’t have been more delighted. We have worked with the charity for several years. We have really gotten to know the team there and see the great work they do to support families with epilepsy as well as the fantastic research that is happening.

'To have a day participating in the celebrations for the Queen’s birthday, their patron, was something we felt proud to support.'

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