Community award for outstanding service to charity

Dalton couple, Joan and Tony Gorton, have been awarded this year’s Huddersfield Examiner Community Award for Services to Charity.

Members of the St John the Baptist, Kirkheaton, Joan has been a longstanding member of the Mothers’ Union Branch including being  secretary and then Enrolling Member.

The couple have also spent the last 40 years improving the lives of people who suffer from epilepsy.

When their eldest child, Sarah, developed epilepsy the couple found they had little to no support.  So since the mid 1970s Joan, now 83, and 87-year-old Tony have managed the Huddersfield Branch of Epilepsy Action and raised thousands of pounds to support Epilepsy Action’s work.

They have campaigned tirelessly for better healthcare services for people with epilepsy in their community. They were instrumental in securing the appointments of the first consultant neurologist and epilepsy specialist nurse in Huddersfield; doing everything from lobbying the local health authorities to fundraising for the position.

Under the guidance of Joan and Tony, the Huddersfield branch of Epilepsy Action has sponsored 40 nurses and allied staff in Kirklees to go on distance learning courses at Leeds Beckett and Edinburgh Napier Universities to enhance their knowledge of epilepsy.

They have supported or sponsored all three of the most recent epilepsy specialist nurses in the Calderdale area.

Pauline Spencer, the current chairwoman of the Huddersfield Branch of Epilepsy Action, said: “When I needed it most, Joan and Tony were always there.”

Joan said: “We were put in touch with the then British Epilepsy Association in 1975 and felt inspired to get involved to give others the support we needed ourselves.

 “It hasn’t always been straightforward and we have overcome many obstacles along the way but we are proud of the difference we have made. We would like to extend our thanks to everyone we have worked with to make our work possible – it has truly been a team effort.”

Last year the couple received charity Epilepsy Action’s Hilary Figg Award for long and distinguished service to people with epilepsy.

They celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in April. Their daughter, Sarah, is now 58 and they have two other children, daughter Zia, 57, and son Alastair, 54.

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