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River Island and St Valentine


14 February 2013

Bridget Gardiner, director of fundraising and marketing at Epilepsy SocietyHave you ever wondered what high street retailer River Island and St Valentine might have in common with epilepsy? Bridget Gardiner, director of fundraising and marketing at Epilepsy Society has some answers.

It’s a little known fact that as well as being the patron saint of love, St Valentine is a latter day patron saint of epilepsy. Information on the origins of St. Valentine’s connection to epilepsy differs. Some accounts suggest he is connected to epilepsy because the name Valentine is similar to the German word for ‘fallen’. Epilepsy was once known as the ‘falling sickness’ because some seizures cause a person to lose consciousness and fall. Other legends suggest that a 3rd century bishop named Valentine von Terni  freed the son of a Roman orator from an epileptic seizure.

And in a week when St Valentine is uppermost in our minds, River Island is championing the cause of epilepsy with an online awareness raising campaign in partnership with Epilepsy Society and our colleagues at Young Epilepsy.  To my mind that makes River Island a veritable modern day saint – throwing its weight behind a condition surrounded by myths and misconceptions. Their mission is to banish stigma by raising awareness of some of the hard facts about epilepsy.

Epilepsy can affect anyone, of any age at any time in their life.  Take Jasmine and Alice Rose  for example.  Two young women who probably typify the average River Island customer.  Take a good look at them  – they could be your daughter, your sister, your niece, your friend.  And read their stories.  Their stories are the sort of thing we hear on our helpline every day.  I applaud River Island for their bravery – yes bravery – and for their emotional support for epilepsy.  It’s not a condition which necessarily commands media attention or corporate support.  So good on River Island for bucking the trend!

But for us at Epilepsy Society, and for  the one in 100 directly affected by the condition, River Island’s support is a massive step forward in accepting people with epilepsy for who they are – your family, your friend, your work colleague, people like you and me. Need I say more?  Happy Valentine’s Day!

River Island