A SCHOOLGIRL is determined to raise awareness of the dangers of epilepsy after the death of a close friend.

Jessica Bexfield, 15, who helps look after her mum and dad, started to go to Young Carers where she met Ben Belverstone, and they became like brother and sister.

Sadly, Ben suffered a fatal epileptic seizure and died at his home in Southend in June. The young Prospects College student was just 18 years old.

In his memory Jessica, who attends Futures College, in Southend, has organised a sponsored walk with her friends and family. During the walk, leaflets will be handed out to raise awareness of epilepsy.

Her proud mum Fliss Bexfield, 45, said: “Jess was very close to Ben.

“Her dad is disabled with osteoarthritis and is blind in one eye and I have mental health issues, so Jess helps us a lot.

“She helps with the housework and shopping.

“She started going to Young Carers for a break and met Ben there.

“He was very good to her and she really misses him, so she decided to do something positive.

“People need to be aware of the dangers of epilepsy. People think you can just take a pill and it will be OK, but it isn’t always like that.”

Jessica, who is aiming for an acting career, said: “Ben began having epileptic seizures just two years before his death.”

The painting and decorating student was found dead in his room by his family after they failed to rouse him.

The walk from Shoebury East Beach to Old Leigh starts at noon on Saturday.

Jessica said: “Ben was like a brother to me. I’d known him for eight years and was devastated when he died. I had the idea to do this back in July. I have a friend at school who also has epilepsy and doctors are finding it difficult to treat him so this is for him as well.

“It’s really important to raise awareness about this illness because people don’t understand how bad it is.

“All my friends and family and my teachers at school have backed me.”