When Hilary Wheale was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she says there was a small part of her that ‘just wanted to give up.’
Things once easy and enjoyable were simply no longer that easy.
But like many fellow local sufferers she was introduced to the Preston and District Branch of the Parkinson’s Society to help curb those feelings of isolation.
Now one of the committee of the monthly group, she says fellow members and a busy programme of activities helped restore ‘a right mind and attitude.’
Chairman of the group Paul Wilson says as well as helping members lead a fulfilling life, through numerous social events and activities, the Preston society is also a backbone of support in helping people cope with their condition.
The busy group with a dedicated eight-strong committee meet the first Tuesday of the month at St Cuthbert’s Church Centre in Lytham Road at 7.30pm.
Evenings usually include a speaker entertaining or informative, while members also have a opportunity to ‘take stock of their problems’ and discuss and share coping strategies and medical advice.
Members also have access to specialist Parkinson’s Disease nurses who have attended meetings as well as other professionals and fitness advisers.
Hilary says: “The group is a great boost for us, we are all like-minded and enjoy the camaraderie.
“We also are there to help and support each other, so no one is left isolated with the condition.
“We are a large, active, inclusive and friendly branch and the group has made such a difference to those with Parkinson’s, their families and carers.”
There are more than 127,000 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the second most common neurological disorder in the UK.
It is a progressive neurological condition that can cause slowness, stiffness and a tremor. Sufferers experience problems with their balance and therefore be prone to falling.
There is currently no cure available, but there is a mounting body of evidence that targeted exercise can improve both symptoms and quality of life.
Paul says: “Exercise is absolutely imperative for people living with Parkinson’s.
“We try to share as many opportunities we can through fundraising to make life easier for all our members.”
There are around 150 people in the Preston district group and through the year, as well as meetings, members enjoy summer trips and outings.
Hilary adds: “A large part of what we do is the fundraising and so many individuals , groups and organisations have been so generous in their support from Garstang United Reformed Church who adopted us as their chosen charity to the Garstang Farmer’s Union to individual fundraisers.
“It all makes such a difference and allows us undertake new experiences.”
The Preston branch has a long history and was founded in April 1972 at the Council Chambers , with 80 people present.
The principles of the group were to ‘enable sufferers to lead a normal life and to help bring them more into the community, by making people more aware of the condition.
Today the branch is still very active within the community, regularly joining up with other local associations for talks and presentations.
Paul adds: “The branch has about 150 members, of whom 50 or so regularly come to meetings. Some people are happy to keep in touch through our newsletters and the occasional phone call. That’s fine by us too.
“We provide free exercise classes, mobility equipment and we also subsidise complementary therapy sessions, weekends away and trips out. But the main benefit of joining is being able to meet other people living with the condition.”