Medical cannabis campaigners Billy and Charlotte Caldwell have arrived in London after completing their sponsored 1,000-mile walk to raise awareness for their I Am Billy campaign.
The pair travelled from their home in Co Tyrone to the Department of Health and Social Care to hand-deliver documents about their campaign and to request a meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The campaign calls for the Government to support the first NHS medical cannabis clinical study and for the NIHR to fund it.
In 2018, epilepsy sufferer Billy and his mother Charlotte successfully campaigned to get medical cannabis legalised in the UK, but there is no ongoing, government-funded clinical research into the efficacy or safety of medical cannabis.
This study could allow vulnerable patients with medical conditions to receive their medication for free.
— I am Billy (@iambillyuk) June 14, 2021
On Tuesday, the pair plan to visit Downing Street to take gifts to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mr Hancock of suitcases with their initials engraved, Hogwarts acceptance letters and I am Billy T-shirts.
Ms Caldwell said: “I’m coming with a hand of friendship, I’m coming with a solution.
“I’m a mother of a patient with experience. Today I am emotional but hopeful. This campaign can and will save lives.”
Over the last 16 days, Billy has walked approximately 162 miles and over 250,000 steps, and supporters of the campaign have joined him along the route.
Ms Caldwell added: “It’s been amazing and Billy has exceeded my expectations. He quite simply keeps blowing my mind that despite his devastating condition, Billy has achieved this.”
The I Am Billy foundation aims to have real world studies at non-profit clinics where the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis can be established.
It also wants to financially support vulnerable, chronically-ill patients by offering those who do not meet the study criteria prescribed, unlicensed medical cannabis.
Former professional Wales rugby player turned CBD entrepreneur Dominic Day was also present to support the campaign.
Mr Day and English rugby player George Kruis launched their CBD company fourfivecbd, which supplies high-standard CBD products, after personally witnessing the benefits while recovering from injuries during their athletic careers.
On his involvement of the campaign, Mr Day said: “I have been following Billy from the start. His story was a massive reason for medicinal cannabis being legalised in the UK and I think everyone is frustrated by the lack of movement and ability for prescriptions to be written to get access to this amazing plant.
“The patients need to come first. Even when the prescriptions are written there is still a heavy burden financially on people so we need that financed and we want to get this amazing medicine into the hands of the people that need it.”
Also joining the pair were sponsors and funders of the I Am Billy foundation including Northern Leaf, Grow Pharma, Medisonal, Kanabo, and the LVL Health Clinic.
The JustGiving campaign has raised £11,257 of the £15,000 target so far.
Billy was the first person in the UK to be prescribed medicinal cannabis funded by the NHS but he has fought for five years to receive his vital medication.
On May 2 Billy celebrated being seizure-free for a year.