A CHARITY founded in Dorchester that supports people with a little known condition is set for a huge step forward.

The Cavernoma Alliance UK, set up by county town resident Dr Ian Stuart in 2006, has received a massive funding boost from the Big Lottery Fund.

The grant of nearly £200,000 means the charity, which has been run by dedicated volunteers, can now take on paid staff and expands its services.

Dr Stuart said: “The generous grant of £198,303 will help fund our vital work for five years.”

The charity currently has nearly 600 members and Dr Stuart said that, although many people do not know about cavernomas, they are not uncommon.

He said: “Cavernomas are clusters of abnormal, leaky blood vessels found primarily in the brain and spinal cord.

“Typically they look like blackberries and are often a few centimetres in diameter. One in six hundred people have at least one cavernoma. Many people experience no symptoms and never realise they have a cavernoma.

“Others can experience haemorrhage, which can cause seizures, permanent neurological damage, neurological deficits or even death.”

Treasurer Tim Millward said that more people were turning to the charity and the funding would enable Cavernoma Alliance UK to meet that growing demand.

He said: “The charity was run from Dr Stuart’s home for many years and we have relied on the energy and commitment of volunteers.

“With the advent of modern MRI scanning, the number of those diagnosed with the condition is increasing. We are signing up between two and three new members every week.”

Mr Millward added: “We are the only organisation in the UK with detailed information about the condition who support newly-diagnosed people and put them in contact with others in the same situation.

“It was essential that we found a new way to ensure that our vital services are available in the future for those with cavernomas.”

For information about Cavernoma Alliance UK and the services it provides visit cavernoma.org.uk.