SARA Edwards' life was changed when she attended a 'coffee and chat' support group meeting run by Epilepsy Action - and now she hopes that even in these coronavirus-dominated times, others can benefit like she has.

Having lived with almost daily seizures up to the age of 30, when a combination of medications finally brought them under control, she contacted the charity as she wanted to help support others who were going through what she had.

But as she told the Argus, epilepsy had left its mark in more ways than one.

"I was extremely shy and my confidence was low, as my epilepsy prevented me from going out and in turn my friendships were limited," said Ms Edwards, who lives with her family in Pontypool.

"I met the Epilepsy Action Wales manager Ann Sivapatham, and she asked me to join its Abergavenny Coffee and Chat group.

"That first meeting changed everything for me. My confidence grew. I loved talking to other people about our shared experiences."

Some 12 years on after becoming a volunteer with Epilepsy Action Ms Edwards - who also volunteers for bereavement charity Cruse - is now an accredited volunteer, who in more normal times visits schools and businesses to raise awareness of living with epilepsy.

She won a volunteer award in 2017, after which she decided to train to become a counsellor.

"I’ve completed the course and need to finish 15 more hours of volunteering in a counselling setting," she said.

"Once Covid-19 has passed, I’ll do this and be qualified. I know without the support and encouragement from Epilepsy Action, I would never have had the confidence to do this."

The coffee and chat group remains an important part of her life, and Epilepsy Action has now set up virtual meetings so that the vital support mechanisms that many rely on can be sustained while coronavirus restrictions continue.

Ms Edwards, who also has cerebral palsy, works in Cardiff with the charity Scope, and part of this involves supporting the parents of children with disabilities, many of whom live with epilepsy.

"I get it about feelings like loneliness and isolation, about maybe not having many friends. It helps that I can empathise with their situation, and I regularly signpost them to Epilepsy Action," she said.

"One parent had little support, so I sent her the link to the new virtual groups organised by Epilepsy Action and she said it was a great initiative, especially during lockdown. She doesn’t drive so would have difficulty getting to a group."

For more information, and to sign up for a virtual group meeting, visit

"The virtual groups are a great way to keep those links going for people, many of whom really benefit from having others to talk to who know how they are feeling, what they are going through," said Ms Edwards.

"Another little boy was having trouble accepting his epilepsy, so I sent his mum the links to the charity’s children’s videos. These really helped him understand his feelings.

"Making that phone call to Epilepsy Action all those years ago was one of the best things I did, and I feel privileged to be part of the volunteer network."