New home for Prader-Willi sufferers to open

A NEW home designed to help adults with a debilitating condition is set to open later this year.

New Directions, which specialises in helping people suffering from Prader-Willi Syndrome, already has four specialist homes in Hastings and Rother and is opening the fifth, Bishop’s Gate, in Springfield Road, St Leonards in April.

The condition stems from a flaw in the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which determines hunger.

This means sufferers feel compelled to eat non-stop.

Chris Leppard, from St Leonards, had Prader-Willi Syndrome, and died in May 2007, aged 25.

His weight reached 40 stone at one point.

Mr Leppard hit the headlines in 2005 when he was sectioned under the Mental Heath Act but released after being assessed at a specialist eating disorder unit.

David Palmer, general manager of New Directions, said: “In a climate of uncertainty we have continued to experience a high level of enquiries for our services.

“After much discussion and thought the company has decided to expand.

“Prader-Willi Syndrome can have a devastating affect on people’s health and well-being if they are not supported. It’s primarily seen as an eating condition as sufferers have an overriding urge to eat that takes over.

“Some people who have come to our homes weighing 24 stone and are now 12 stone, leading healthy lifestyles.”

Mr Palmer’s nephew, Vincent, had the condition and died aged 20 in 1997.

Prader-Willi Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that occurs in one in 15,000 to 20,000 live births.

Bishop’s Gate will generate an additional 16 to 18 new jobs and provide eight spaces.

New Directions has links with the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (UK) (PWSA), and regularly raises funds for the charity. The 2010 Hastings Carnival Queen, Tamara Gates, nominated PWSA as her nominated charity for her year in office.

Mr Palmer said: “A number of local work placement opportunities have been afforded to service users from local businesses, charities and a school. We would like to thank Drallim Industries, DVS media centre, Education Training Consortium Sussex, Scope and Little Common School.”

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