A Chalfont St Peter charity has paid tribute to Dame Cheryl Gillan after her death at the weekend shocked the community.

Dame Cheryl was vice president of the Epilepsy Society, which is based in Bucks.

Its chief executive, Clare Pelham, said: “We have been privileged to have had the support of Dame Cheryl, both as our local MP and as a Vice President of the charity.

“She has been an unfailing champion of people with epilepsy and has always taken great pride in sharing our groundbreaking science and research in Parliament.

“Cheryl was a frequent visitor to our research centre with a very keen interest in our world-leading genomic research and the potential impact of scientific discovery for people with epilepsy – a cause that was very close to her heart.

“Cheryl will be greatly missed by us all and our thoughts are with her friends and family at this very sad time.”

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As well as being vice president of the charity that supports those with epilepsy, Mrs Gillan was also an advocate for those with autism and responsible for introducing the landmark Autism Act 11 years ago.

The charity said she served as vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Epilepsy over a number of years and supported of its campaign to tackle malicious tweeting by trolls who attempt to trigger seizures in people with epilepsy through flashing images.

Bucks Free Press: Dame Cheryl at the Epilepsy Society in 2015Dame Cheryl at the Epilepsy Society in 2015

Ms Pelham said: “Cheryl has championed the cause of people with epilepsy in parliament, raising the profile of a condition that is often poorly understood and misrepresented.”

She added: “Cheryl had an incredible understanding of what it is like to live with epilepsy, whether as a controlled condition which has minimal impact on a person’s life beyond the challenge of everyday stigma; or as a complex condition which requires 24-hour care.

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“Cheryl got people and we have been fortunate to have always been able to call upon her support.”

Mrs Gillan was made a Dame in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2018, at the time crediting the honour to her constituents, and served the Chesham and Amersham constituency for almost 30 years.

She sadly died over the Easter weekend, on Saturday, following a long illness.