Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Parkinson's UK

Top class concert by the Guilsfield Singers at St Mary's Church, Welshpool at the weekend. Proceeds went to the local branch of Parkinson's UK. I spoke to the assembled audience immediately after half-time. This is what I said.

"My name is Glyn Davies and I am president of the Montgomeryshire branch of Parkinson's UK. Parkinson's Disease is a degenerative neurological condition affecting movement and muscle control. It affects everything that most of us take for granted - like walking, talking, eating and even smiling.

Those of you with first hand experience of Parkinson's are aware that living with the disease is very challenging. Imagine having to really think about every movement involved in lifting a cup of tea, taking a step, or feeling happy inside but not being able to smile to show your happiness to a friend or loved one.

We do not know what causes Parkinson's, or why some people are diagnosed with it, and others are not. What we do know is that Parkinson's Disease is non-discriminatory, having no regard for age, gender, race or religion.

There are over 120,000 people living with Parkinson's across the UK, 6,000 of them in Wales. One in 20 of these are under the age of 40. At Parkinson's UK, we work both nationally and locally to support all peope affected by Parkinson's, their families, friends and carers. Our work can be summed up as providing help for today, and hope for tomorrow. Hope, because we are the leading non-commercial funder of research into the condition. In 2009 alone, we invested £4.7m into Parkinson's research, striving to increase our understanding of its causes, finding more effective treatments and searching for a cure.

Much of our work involves the provision of emotional support, information and advice, whenever and wherever people need it. We work to ensure that people with Parkinson's receive the consistent quality, and range of care that they need to be able to manage their symptoms effectively.

Parkinson's UK is not a big organisation. But our network of branches and support groups gives us a presence in local communities throughout the UK, and are run by hard working and loyal volunteers. In Montgomeryshire, our branch is run by our Chairman, John Day, and our secretary, Anne Smedley. We also have active branches in Llanidloes and Machynlleth.

In 2009, our scale of support for people with Parkinson's increased significantly. 3 new Parkinson's Disease Nurse Specialist posts were agreed, including one in Montgomeryshire. 7 new Parkinson's Information and Support Worker posts were established in Wales. An Education and Training Officer for Wales, and a Policy and Campaigns Officer have been appointed.

On April 8th we officially adopt our new name, the one I've been using tonight, Parkinson's UK. With the new name will come a new brand and image which will highlight our commitment to changing attitudes to Parkinson's, funding cutting edge research, as we search for a cure and hopefully, inspire people to join us.

The charity relies entirely on voluntary donations to provide much needed help and support to people with Parkinson's, here in Wales, and across the UK. This is why we are so grateful to the Guilsfield Singers for donating the proceeds of their wonderful concert tonight to our charity."

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