Raising awareness of Parkinson’s in North Devon

Kate and John Yelland are thankful for the support available to those living with Parkinson's. Kate and John Yelland are thankful for the support available to those living with Parkinson's.

Saturday, April 26, 2014
9:39 AM

There is plenty going on at the Parkinson’s UK Torridge branch to support sufferers and carers.

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IMAGINE someone else was in control of your movements, your voice, and relying on up to 30 tablets a day just to get through the next few hours – that is the reality for the thousands who have to live with Parkinson’s.

The Torridge branch of Parkinson’s UK took the opportunity during national Parkinson’s Awareness Week earlier this month to let more people know about the degenerative neurological condition and the help available.

Parkinson’s affects 127,000 in the UK and there is no cure. The symptoms are tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity, which worsen over time.

Former Putford Primary School headmaster John Yelland is 67, but was diagnosed with the condition when he was 54. He noticed his writing was becoming smaller and began experiencing pain when writing.

Now his right side is affected and he is forced to do many everyday actions frustratingly slowly, but John and his wife Kate, who live in Shebbear, have found huge benefit from the support available locally.

“At first I was like many people, in denial, and didn’t want to have anything to do with anybody or anything connected with the disease, but now I go to quite a few events and they are very supportive,” he said.

“I’d like to say what superb support there is for people with Parkinson’s now. I see a specialist every six months, there is a super Parkinson’s nurse at NDDH who is there whenever you need her, plus all the support groups in the area.”

Kate added: “It’s quite devastating once a family member has got it, but the support is out there. You can feel very much on your own once your partner has been diagnosed – you really do need to talk to somebody because you don’t know what to expect.

“The thing about Parkinson’s is not to become isolated; you have to keep up a social life.”

The Torridge branch runs social events and a monthly coffee morning as well as a carer’s group, plus a variety of therapy courses can be accessed and a weekly keep fit group is held at Weare Giffard Village Hall.

* For more information and to find out about the support and friendship offered by Parkinson’s UK Torridge Branch, as well as how you can help, make a donation or speak with volunteers – call Julie Jones on 01237 478128 or Anne Ward on 01288 331475.

There is also a Parkinson’s UK Barnstaple Branch - Jennie or Bob Bliss can be contacted on 01271 814159.

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