Parkinson’s UK turned 50 on Tuesday and members of the Worthing and Washington support group felt it the perfect opportunity to highlight the progress made.
The group has members from Littlehampton to Southwick, up to Arundel and Pulborough, and across to Washington and Ashington, making it the largest local team in the UK.
Member Rod Herod said: “Parkinson’s UK turned 50 on February 26, 2019. It is a milestone for us and a chance to reflect how far we’ve come in that time.”
The charity was founded in 1969 as the Parkinson’s Disease Society by Mali Jenkins, in a one-room office in Putney. For 50 years, it has been single-minded in its purpose to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s.
The first support groups were established in 1970 to offer support and friendship. Today, there are 450 groups uniting communities across the UK and fundraising to support pioneering research and improve people’s lives.
Parkinson’s UK Worthing and Washington has about 275 members and holds monthly, all-day meetings that attract up to 90 people.
Donna Felstead, chairman elect, said: “It is now more urgent than ever that we unite to give people with Parkinson’s the support they need, an unremitting drive for better care and new treatments.”
For 50 years, the charity has funded pioneering research looking for a cure and Donna said the importance of this research could not be overstated.
The work has unlocked discoveries that are bringing breakthroughs closer than ever. Surgical techniques for deep brain stimulation, genetics research and the efforts of the brain bank have all given a better understanding of what is going wrong inside cells affected by Parkinson’s.
Donna said: “My dad has Parkinson’s and I have grown up hoping that one day there will be a cure not just for him but, of course, for everyone with the condition.
“He is my inspiration in life and I love the fact that I can give something back through my volunteering to act as chairman of Team Parkinson’s Worthing and Washington.”
Parkinson’s UK has empowered people to live life to the full and fundraising is as important as ever.
Sally Girach, who has just joined the Worthing and Washington committee as treasurer, said: “I have been amazed at the amount of energy and enthusiasm that is given so freely by members, their families and supporters in running the many charitable events that form the basis of the group’s yearly programme.
“One of my jobs as a volunteer treasurer is to balance the books and to do that in 2019, we must significantly increase the amount we raise.”
With a focus very much on 50, the group has been considering how they are we going to do that and, more importantly, looking for ways to encourage as many people as possible to join in.
Sally said: “At one level, do you have a box of chocolates or a bottle of perfume we can use as raffle prizes?
“At another level are you able to donate a sum of money for a specific research project?
“Are you willing to contribute funds to a coach outing of members within 50 miles? Are you willing to join us on a sponsored walk or cycle ride?
“Would you collect all the 50p coins that gather in your pocket or purse for a year? Do you have the skill to bake 50 small cakes for a summer fayre?
“The opportunities are endless and over the next few months, we will identify what fundraising activities we are undertaking to help make life easier for people with Parkinson’s and mark the 50th birthday of Parkinson’s UK.”
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