DOZENS of people attended events across Dorchester and Weymouth to mark Coeliac Awareness Week.

The Coeliac UK Dorchester group began the week by laying on a gluten-free pizza breakfast at Pizza Express in Dorchester’s Brewery Square, which pulled in a decent crowd.

Volunteers from the group then spent four hours manning an information stand at Damers Restaurant at Dorset County Hospital before group organiser Eileen Mitchell spoke to members of the NHS Retirement Fellowship at the United Church in South Street, Dorchester.

Eileen spoke about coeliac disease and how it affects people.

In the evening consultant gastroenterologist from Dorset County Hospital Dr James Shutt gave a comprehensive lecture on coeliac disease at the Dorchester Library and Learning Centre.

His talk also touched on related autoimmune diseases and included extracts from a local audit undertaken with regard to NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines.

The following day group organiser Eileen gave a live radio interview, which was followed by a phone in with chief executive of Coeliac UK Sarah Sleet.

The week of awareness events was also supported by Waitrose, with the Dorchester supermarket sponsoring the group as part of its Community Matters programme and donating samples of gluten-free food to members of the clinical audit committee at Dorset County Hospital.

The week was rounded off with a coffee morning at Sainsbury’s supermarket in Weymouth, where group members met individuals and their families who had either been diagnosed with the condition or had an interest as they were displaying some of the symptoms.

Eileen said: “We had a very full but satisfying week, meeting a wide range of people aged from 13 up to octongenerians.”

She added that she wanted to thank Dorset County Hospital catering manager Derrick Stevens, Caroline Bascombe and the caretaker from Dorchester Library, Dorota Strzelecka and staff from Pizza Express, Melanie Roberts from Waitrose in Dorchester and staff from Sainsbury’s in Weymouth.