Merry Christmas! Parkinson's UK

Q: Why is Parkinson's common in Saudi Arabia?
A: Because they have the sheikhs!

▲ Top of page ▲

Recent special events

Layla Moran MP visits our classes
Image from Layla Moran MP's Twitter feed @LaylaMoran

Layla Moran MP visits our exercise and voice classes

We were excited that our local MP Layla Moran (Lib Dem) visited our voice class and Big Bold and Balance exercise class on Friday 17th November. Layla is MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, and is her party's science and education spokesperson.

Parkinson's UK delegation to 10 Downing Street

Downing Street lineup Emma Lawton Funny guys Keeping the PM amused Prime Minister Theresa May Paul and Billy
Images © Parkinson's UK, available at their Flickr site

Parkinson's UK recently arranged a meeting with the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at 10 Downing Street. As well as senior members of the charity, many well-known figures connected with Parkinson's were there. No fewer than four of them had been speakers at our September 2017 conference! Among them was Paul Mayhew-Archer, who writes:

Not only am I lucky enough to have Dr Who as my neurologist but I have now had the thrill of going inside a Tardis.

OK. To be accurate, my neurologist is Dr Hu. And I haven't been in an actual Tardis, but 10 Downing St feels pretty similar. You go through a front door and suddenly you're in a building that stretches back down Whitehall. You can't help feeling if you found a wardrobe in one of the rooms Mr Tumnus would pop out and usher you into Narnia.

The reason I was visiting Downing St was because the Prime Minister was hosting a reception for Parkinson's UK to commemorate the 200 years since James Parkinson wrote his essay.

It was - like every day living with Parkinson's - a day when I felt both 'off' and 'on', down and up.

I was very "up" as I waited to go in. Then I got talking to some leading Parkinson's researchers and I felt "down" when one of them revealed he was contemplating leaving the country if Brexit turned out badly or if his European wife continued to feel unwelcome. We are lucky that we have some of the greatest minds in the world working on Parkinson's, but of course great minds are offered jobs everywhere. Will we continue to attract and keep the best?

Incidentally, there are occasions when the word "Brexit" seems like the word "Voldemort" - that which must not be spoken. But I spoke it in No 10 and from what I can gather - and I am sure someone will correct me if I have gathered it wrongly - the thinking, the hope, seems to be that in ten years time we'll be able to look back on Brexit and feel we did the right thing. My own concern of course is the ten years in between. Speaking as someone who is 64 and from Oxford, a world-renowned centre for Parkinson's research, the next ten years are pretty important. I would simply urge Parkinson's UK to pressurise all those in power to ensure that scientific collaboration and endeavour continues as smoothly as possible.

For me, this was a day of exciting brief encounters. Not only did I get to meet the Prime Minister - I was moved to discover that her mother had MS - but I also got to meet Billy Connolly, probably the greatest standup comedian the UK has ever produced and one of my comedy heroes. He is still very funny.

It was also a thrill to meet Pamela Stephenson, Billy's wife, Jane Asher, the President of PUK, the splendidly enthusiastic staff at PUK and Adil Ray (Citizen Khan) whose mother has Parkinson's.

Two moments, however, stand out for me and they both involve people with early onset Parkinson's.

One was the presentation of an award to James Morgan and Juliette Pochin, the amazing organisers of the Symfunny Concerts. James was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2012 at the age of 42.

The other was the speech by Emma Lawton.

Emma was diagnosed 4 years ago when she was 29. Not only does she have Parkinson's but her neck muscles have collapsed on one side because of a problem that she told me is not due to the Parkinson's. "Of all the luck," she said brightly.

Before Steve Ford and Theresa May spoke, expressing their determination to fight yet harder for a cure and better treatment, we heard from Emma. My Goodness. What an astonishing person she is. She meets everything she faces with such spirit and such humour. She's going to have a go at stand up comedy and I think she'll be terrific.

She was the reason I ended the day on a wonderful 'up'. Parkinson's is horrible and ruthless, but the people it attacks seem to be extraordinary, inspirational people: People like Emma and James and Billy, and also people in my local group like Sally and Jem and many others. The Parkinson's community is full of people who inspire researchers to dig deeper into their brilliant brains and inspire politicians and the public to dig deeper into their pockets. While they do so there is hope for us all.

Essay front cover P200+ poster
Marking 200 years

PROCEEDINGS NOW ONLINE! Parkinson's 200 Plus

On 18th September 2017 our Branch proudly presented a conference marking the bicentenary of publication of An Essay on the Shaking Palsy by James Parkinson.

Presentation screencasts

Most of the presentations are now available online as videos of the presentation slides along with the presenter's voice. Follow this link to see the full collection on our Vimeo channel, or browse the conference timetable with links to each individual video.

Panel sessions online

Panel 1: The promise of future therapies

Research leaders Richard Wade-Martins, Richard Wyse and Arthur Roach discuss what we can expect to see in the near future, in a session chaired by Kevin McFarthing. Available as an MP3 audio podcast at this link.

Panel 2: Living better with Parkinson's

Parkinson's nurse Jo Bromley chairs a panel with inspirational PwPs John Foster, Emma Lawton and Alex Reed. Transcript document (PDF) available at this link.