Back in 1982 I was able to attend an Epilepsy Symposium in London. On the associated tour through England, Scotland and the United States, I learned many things – enough to give the NZ Epilepsy Association a 50 page report.
Among the matters reported was the manner of funding of overseas Epilepsy Organisations. The most successful of these were the Dutch Epilepsy Organisation, who had very strong government support, and also their Foundation which gave them extra independence. Another is the Epilepsy Foundation of America. The EFA was bringing in about $US4,000,000 a year by their direct mail campaign. Due to their private assets, the British Epilepsy Association had just scraped through a government let down. All this indicated that a solid monetary base was a worthwhile means of ensuring the continuance of the association’s work into the future.
As I worked it out, the Epilepsy Association needed about one million a year to fulfil my objectives for it. The first dollar was the hardest to find. We found it in the gift of the receipts from the dress rehearsal of a play. The money was placed into an account named as the “Foundation Account”. This account grew slowly until it amounted to about $220,000 as funds of the Foundation. The money that came into the Foundation was to be held in perpetuity and only the interest used. This was done until 1994 when a constitutional change made it possible for us to accept money in the form of a ‘Savings Bank’ deposit. However, all the money placed prior to the 1994 changes still remains inviolate. Up to date returns to the Association are contained in the chairman’s report for the current year.
The Foundation bank account was initiated in 1983. In 1986 a legacy was left to the Epilepsy Foundation which made it necessary to incorporate as a separate entity. We officially opened the Foundation with a ceremony at Government House in Wellington in September 1987.
Registered in September 1987 the Epilepsy Foundations aim was to raise funds to fully support the one in fifty New Zealanders living with epilepsy. A core group of thirty members have worked tirelessly at the Foundation since 1987 culminating in 2012 with the creation of a fourteen venue, nationwide support structure called ‘Epilepsy Support Trusts’.
Rodney Fox and the late Ray Kerr (MBE) have been with the Foundation since its inception. Their relentless work has led to the support structures in place today for those living with epilepsy.
In 1992 Ray Kerr was awarded an MBE for fifty years of service in support of all New Zealanders living with epilepsy. With wife June and daughter Hillary working alongside him the Kerr family have been the Foundations driving force.
The Late Ray Kerr (MBE)
Founder & Former Chairperson