WALKERS in Haverfordwest are being urged to step up to raise money to fund research into Parkinson’s.
Haverfordwest Walk for Parkinson’s, in aid of Parkinson’s UK, takes place on Saturday, June 3, organised by Bob Ratcliffe, 60.
Bob’s dad, also called Bob, who had the condition, donated his brain and his spinal column towards Parkinson’s research after he passed away aged 84 in 2010.
The Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank, based at Imperial College London, collects precious tissue from people with, and without, Parkinson’s who have decided to leave their brains to Parkinson’s research.
It has already led to major advances in the understanding of Parkinson’s, and resulted in new treatments being developed and tested.
Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. There are over 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s, but the 3 main symptoms are a tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness).
Bob said: “My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was in his 60s, and it just progressed and got worse as the condition does over time.
“But he was always very positive so he found out as much as he could about the condition. He and my mum both joined a local Parkinson’s UK support group fairly soon afterwards.
“Dad had Parkinson’s for many years, and he insisted that after his death, his brain and spinal column should go to research into the disease.
“That’s why when doing the walk, I’ve always asked Parkinson’s UK to ringfence the money for research.
“My sister moved back into the family home with my mum to help care for him when he became a bit more infirm. But for a long time after he was diagnosed he did go on and try to keep as active as he could.
“He was quite a fundraiser himself, before and after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He was a very public-spirited person; involved in many things.
“My mum got a lot from going to the local Parkinson’s support group. She was able to get support from other people whose partners had Parkinson’s. My mum was secretary of the local support group in East Anglia.”
Bob added: “As we grow and people get to know about it, we hope the event will become a firm fixture in the social calendar for people who attend.
“The atmosphere is very friendly and sociable. Dogs and children are welcome and as much as possible the route is suitable for those with mobility issues, wheelchair users and pushchairs.
“We completed a walk last year, it was a virtual one the year before because of Covid. The local Rotary club came and helped steward the event. We raised £620 and the target is to raise over £1,000 this year.”
Keri McKie, Regional Fundraiser for Parkinson’s UK Cymru said: “On behalf of Parkinson’s UK Cymru I’d like to thank Bob for organising this event. It’s a great opportunity for people in Haverfordwest to get out and about, do some exercise, socialise, and raise money to support the work of the charity.
“It is because of the volunteering efforts of people like Bob, we are able to fund the work that we do as an organisation.
“Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. There’s currently no cure. But as the largest European charitable funder of Parkinson’s research, we’re absolutely determined to change that.
“We’ve invested over £100m in vital research that has delivered groundbreaking discoveries, new medications and better care.
“The money that is donated will go towards funding important research into the condition which has the potential to lead to better treatments.”
The Haverfordwest walk is a circular route, approximately 7.5 miles long, starting and finishing at the Cricket Club on Dale Road.
Registration will open from 11am and the walkers will set off at around 12 noon. There will be stops on the route around the town where walkers can buy refreshments.
The entry fee is £15 per person, of which at least £11 will go to the charity. Entrants are encouraged to find sponsors prior to the event and collections from the public will be gratefully received on the day.
There will also be a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses, at the Cricket Club after the walk. Entry includes a bacon roll and coffee at the start and a strip of raffle tickets for the draw. Tickets are available from Bob & Jane Ratcliffe or at eventbrite.