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A Brief History

The Beginning

In 1973, following a letter by Carole Rossington to the Croydon Advertiser, a group of people with epilepsy met together to form a society that would give help and support to people with epilepsy. On the 24th May 1974, the Inaugural Meeting of the Croydon Epilepsy Society was held at Waylands.

The Early Years

From a small group the membership gradually grew and included people with epilepsy, their families and friends. At that stage the charity had no office, the work being done at from Carole's Rossington flat and Rosemary Aselford's House. The meetings were held first of all at Waylands and then at Rees House. In 1978 the society started our first Newsletter. Both Carole and Rosemaary were avaiable at any time to deal with enquiries and the problems which people who have epilepsy can experience. As Carole was home during the day, a lot of the enquiries went through to her. We became a registered charity a few years after the society started, as we felt this was essential if we going to collect money and apply for grants to cover the running costs.

Our First Offices

In 1983 for the first time we had an office at 8a Ledbury Road where we started an MSC Community Programme Project. We employed as many as possible with epilepsy or some other disability, either full or part-time. It meant that in addition to being able receive enquiries by telephone or letter, we could now be available from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday at the office. We also held a social meeting at Rees House on the 1st Tuesday of each month and had a speaker or some organised programme on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. The membership was still growing and had reached about 200,  but few of them were the same people as when we started. Usually as soon as their problems had been solved they ceased to be members, and as we have found over the years that this is what generally happens.

From CP Project to Independence

By 1985 we needed larger offices so we moved to 78 Southbridge Road, but we kept Ledbury Road as a Day Centre. We had 42 employed in our MSC project working in the office, visiting and running the Day Centre. When the CP scheme came to an end, we had an ET project for a year but it did not prove suitable for the work we were trying to do, so we stopped it and sought ways of being more independent.

 

The Tumbledown Charity Shop, Southbridge Road ,Croydon. 1985. in Carole Rossington (left) and Rosemary Aselford (right)

All Under One Roof

We were very grateful when the London Borough of Croydon agreed to pay most of the salaries for the three full-time staff to keep the work going and to also pay the rent. With these three staff and some part-time volunteers, we were able to deal with enquires, visit clients and run the Day centre. 

When we left our diplapidated premises in Southbridge road the top floor was not safe so it could not be used. It was also very inconvenient having the Day Centre some distance away in Ledbury Road. We needed to move urgently and were very pleased to find new premises at 71 Stanley Road. We moved on 1st April 1992. At last we could have a charity shop, woodwork room and a large Day Centre room on the ground floor, where it could be accessible to our clients. The offices were on the first floor and divided in three sections, where it may it easier to get on with the work and listen to people's problem's.

Under our Day Centre Manager, Mrs Terry Treseder and her assistant, Mrs Maureen Cass, the number attending the Day Centre increased. Various  instructors came in to help with projects, while woodwork projects could be undertaken under the guidance of a supervisor. They took part in various exhibitions. Fetes were held in the courtyard, and group holidays were organised. 


 

Summer Fete at Ledbury Road Premises 1995

We were able to hold Annual general meetings and New Year parties in the premises. Monthly meetings for members were also held and some street collections organised. The shop flourished under the supervision of Maureen Cass and Flo George, Nessie Watts and other volunteers. 

In 1995 we were able to celebrate the society's 21st Birthday. We had an Open Afternoon and and Evening on October 10th. In the afternoon, visitors could see the Day centre at work. A successful group holiday to Minehead was held in September. 


Special Display at Croydon Library by Croydon  Epilepsy Society Day Centre members in 1995

 

Loss of our Grant

The work continued in a similar way during 1996 and 1997. Then in 1998 we were told that only a few people of those attending our Day Centre met their Priority One criteria, so these people would be moved to alternative day centre places and our £36,000 grant from Social services would cease from the beginning of the next financial year. The decision could be made and nothing we could do could alter it. 

In 1999 therefore, we had to lose our Day Centre manager, Terry Treseder and Rosemary Aselford came out of retirement to run the Day centre on a voluntary basis. Judi Fraser has taken over as part-time Administrator in the office. We were relying on the money from the shop, collection from outsidee stores , and donations to keep us going.  We could not afford to go on paying the rent for our premises in Stanley Road, so we had to look for a smaller place where we could have an office, a small day centre and a shop of possible.

At Christmas 1999, Carole Rossington collasped and was taken to hospital, seriously ill. Early in 2000 we were packing up our paperwork and getting some of our furniture together for moving out.  In February, just after Carole  had died, when it was very difficult for Jim Rossington to move out.  For six weeks we had a temporary office in the one-bedroom flat of Rosemary Aselford, and a small group of people from the day centre met there in the front room.

We were told that there was no longer any need for our organisation,as advice could be given by other organisations, but we felt that there was a need for us to continue so people who had a problem with epilepsy could talk to someone who understood. 

New Premises

A short time later in 2000 we managed to find new premises at the Len Pyant Centre in Elmwood Road, Croydon. Jim Rossington, the husband of Carole,  carried on the society as Chairman with the assistance of Rosemary. A Day Centre was restarted and other activities were organised for members.

Croydon Epilepsy Society AGM 2000  Len Pyant Centre  - Prof Frank Besag ,our President ( left)


The society held a stall at the Selsdon Wood Country Fayre in 2002 to raise funds. 

 

Stall at Selsdon Wood Country Fayre 2002 -  Rosemary Aselford pictured left

 

In May 2004 the society celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a party at the Len Pyant Centre. 

The Day Centre at the Len Pyant Centre carried on to 2009 until Rosemary Aselford finally retired. In 2009, Dawn Gibbons took over the job of Honorary Secretary.  We set up an email address for the society in 2009.

Then in April 2013 Jim Rossington died, leaving the society in a difficult position. After stepping down for a short period before Jim's death, Dawn Gibbons took up the position of Honorary Secretary again to deal with the society affairs. In May 2014, the society celebrated its 40th Anniversary. At the AGM in May 2014, it  was decided to set up a web site for the charity in memory of all the work done by both Carole, the charities founder and her husband Jim Rossington who carried on the charity after her death in 2000. 

In September 2014 the society decided to hold a stall at the Friends of Selsdon Wood Open Day.

Croydon Epilepsy Society stall at Friends of Selsdon Wood Open Day in September 2015 - Richard Ruffell (left), Dawn Gibbons (centre) Marco Valencia (right)


The Society Today

In Autumn 2014 the society set up its first web site. A Facebook account was also set up in 2014. Both these will enable the society's existence to be carried on in a more digital age than when it was first set up in 1974. We also hope that the Croydon Epilepsy Society will continue to help those with epilepsy and their families and carers  in the future.