A Ryedale charity continued its mission to raise awareness of a devastating brain condition when it visited the House of Lords on Monday, July 17.

The Encephalitis Society, which is based on Castlegate, Malton, was invited to the Palace of Westminster by Baroness Anne McIntosh of Pickering, a vice president of the charity.

The star-studded evening introduced guests to the work of the charity and its aim to provide support, raise awareness and help fund research into encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

Baroness McIntosh, who was the MP for Thirsk and Malton between 2010 and 2015, said: "It was a pleasure for me to help open the doors of the House of Lords to the Encephalitis Society.

"Many of the guests who attended were unaware of encephalitis and, naturally, of the devastation that it can cause on those who are lucky to survive and their families.

"I am confident they will have gone home after a wonderful evening with an understanding of encephalitis and hopefully they will spread that message among their friends, family and colleagues."

House of Lords 2017

Guests at the event included actresses Jemma Redgrave and Kika Markham, gourmet cook and television presenter Tonia Buxton, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone, Lord Roy Kennedy of Southwark and Lord Alex Carlile of Beriew.

Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of the Encephalitis Society, said: "A recent YouGov poll we commissioned revealed that around 80 per cent of the UK public do not know what encephalitis is - a shocking statistic which we are working tirelessly to change.

"Events such as this and the fruit that they bare are an important step in our long-term objectives to make encephalitis as well-known as Motor Neurone Disease and bacterial meningitis among British households.

"We are very grateful to Baroness McIntosh for her hospitality and the first-class support she has already shown to the Society since she agreed to become our vice president."

The Society will return to the Houses of Parliament later in the year when MP Kevin Hollinrake hosts the charity in the House of Commons at an event to launch next year's World Encephalitis Day campaign.



The Encephalitis Society was founded in 1994, is a registered charity and the only resource of its kind in the world providing direct support and information to people affected by encephalitis, and to their family and friends.

The Encephalitis Society receives no Government funding and relies on income raised from individuals, businesses and grant-making organisations.


Encephalitis (noun, /ɛnˌkɛfəˈlʌɪtɪs/) is inflammation of the brain and is caused either by an infection invading the brain (infectious); or through the immune system attacking the brain in error (post-infectious / autoimmune encephalitis).

The condition is indiscriminate, striking adults and children alike, showing no respect for age, gender, ethnic origin or culture.  Mortality rates are high and in those who survive many are left with an acquired brain injury, the degree and severity of which will vary.  Their difficulties may include cognitive, physical, emotional, behavioural, or psychosocial consequences. 


The types of symptoms seen in encephalitis reflect the specific areas of the brain affected by the inflammation. The range of symptoms and their rate of development vary widely and can make the diagnosis of encephalitis difficult.

Infectious encephalitis frequently begins with a ‘flu-like illness or headache. Typically more serious symptoms follow hours to days later. The most serious finding is an alteration in level of consciousness. This can range from mild confusion or drowsiness, to loss of consciousness, seizures and coma.  Other symptoms include a high temperature, seizures (fits), aversion to bright lights, inability to speak or control movement, sensory changes, neck stiffness, or uncharacteristic behaviour.

In autoimmune types of encephalitis people can present with psychosis and hallucinations among other neurological presentations.  Sometimes these patients can be mistakenly thought to be developing psychiatric or mental health illnesses.

For a more detailed factfile on Encephalitis please see: