'˜Never underestimate a mother's love': Billy Caldwell's mum
Charlotte Caldwell has travelled thousands of miles and lobbied countless decision-makers in her fierce battle to have medicinal cannabis made available for her epileptic son Billy.
On Thursday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the rules would now be relaxed, following expert advice from a panel commissioned to review the current position.
Along the way, Ms Caldwell has been knocked back time and time again by UK authorities, who have long been reluctant to relax the laws around any cannabis products – even in the face of evidence that epileptics like Billy Caldwell, 13, suffered considerably fewer seizures when using the medicines where available.
Last month, Ms Caldwell was stopped at Heathrow airport as she returned to the UK from Canada with a batch of cannabis oil medication.
The medicines were confiscated but the public outcry led to the setting up of an expert panel to review the UK’s legislation around the products.
Responding to the news that the panel would consider the issue, Ms Caldwell said: “Seeing and hearing Home Secretary Sajid Javid telling Parliament that the government agrees something must be done and done urgently was incredible.”
Earlier this month the Home Office granted a short-term licence to allow Billy access to cannabis oil, but the arrangements for its administration were described by Ms Caldwell as “chaotic”.
The treatment was initially provided on site at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, but permission was later granted for Billy to receive the medication at this home in Castlederg.
Speaking at the Politics Festival in London in June, the tireless campaigner said: “I don’t think people realise the horrific impact of epilepsy. It breaks bodies, it breaks minds, it breaks families. It’s brutal.”
She added: “I don’t think I’ll be happy now until the law changes. Being put in this position just makes me more determined. I’ll never stop fighting. What I’m doing is nothing compared to what he’s enduring.
“I’m his voice, and he’s my heart. Never underestimate a mother’s love.”