About Us

 We are a group of "normal" people who have been affected by some type of  Parkinson's at an early age and their families who get together every month to meet and chat over a drink.

Committee Members

 

Chairman & Treasurer               Mark Whitworth

Secretary & Press Relations      Niki Oldroyd

 

Mark Whitworth

mark whitworth

 

 

I am a family man with three children, I am also a boxing coach for a small club called Norwich Diamonds ABC.  I boxed and kick boxed myself, but a shoulder injury stopped me going professional back in 1996.alt Until two years ago I had never done any research into Parkinsons – the only thing I knew was that the great Muhammad Ali had it. I was 38, and very into my sports. I started to feel very tired, and did not feel like going to work, even though I run a small roofing business, and had a family to support.The Doctor told me to slow down on my sports, and not to work so hard, and told me I was stressed, so I tried to slow down a bit. My wife Danielle noticed I was carrying my left hand, just like you would if you were hurt and but we did not think anything of it. This went on for a few weeks until Danielle made me go back to the Doctor. He told me I had Carpel tunnel, so I had an operation on both hands after  which I had the next eight weeks off work.I felt good for a while, then the tiredness came back (I know now that was depression, I'd never had depression before so did not recognise the symptoms). Danielle and many of my friends started to notice that I was beginning to drag my left foot and I was still holding my left hand. I had gone from being very strong to very weak. markSo after being forced back to the Doctor by my wife, I was sent me to the local hospital for a test.After many blood tests and MRI scans, the Doctor hit me with it 'Mark, I think you may have Parkinson's I almost fell over with the blow, tears came to my eye and I didn't know what to do. I tried to stay strong but all I could think of is what to tell my kids, my family, and my friends. The worst thing is I still had to wait 6 weeks to get the results.altThey were a very long six weeks of my life, believe me, I just wanted to know what was going on. All kinds of things were going on in my head, then just weeks before Christmas two years ago, I was told the news 'Mark you have Parkinson's' Boom, my head just exploded with fear, 'God what do I do now?'Danielle is great. Some mornings she gets me dressed, and helps me with the things I struggle with. She will always be there to support me. I think the children understand, but at 15 and twin girls at 11, it must be hard for them to grasp. Many of my friends have been great, but I'm not sure they fully understand what I'm going through; sometimes it is hard to explain.I wanted to find out more about Parkinson's, so I started to look for local support groups, and found one in my city, Norwich. Though they made me welcome, I felt very out of place being the youngest person there. So I decided to start my own group.

 

Niki Oldroyd

niki oldroyd

 

 

I was diagnosed in 1991 at the age of 24  after 4 years of tests for balance issues finally led me to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Leading up to the appointment  I had had numerous  brain scans (CT, PET and MRI) and blood tests and I assumed they would find my brain deficient in some kind of chemical that could be  replaced by medication. 

In front of a large group of students in a lecture theatre one of the senior consultants at the hospital pushed and pulled me one way and another demonstrating my poor balance and altered gait. He then pronounced that I had Parkinson's Disease . 

Looking back I was at ar centre of excellence for neurological conditions so probably should have expected bad news but I was totally shocked – all I could think of was shaky old people and that they must have made a mistake. The worst thing was that noone could tell me when or how the disease would progress but they did tell me there was nothing I  could to stop it.  

There were a lot of tears and - I did the "why me"? thing for quite a whiIe. That was 21 years ago.  

I have found it very difficult  to come to terms with the fact that I have Parkinson's and think I was in denial for a very long time.  At the time of the diagnosis until a year ago  I lived in Kent only 20 miles from central London  and throughout that time (20 years) not once I was offered any support by any type of organisation.  When I moved to Norfolk I did not know what to expect but the difference has been incredible. 

There  is a  team of Physios, Occupational Therapists, Parkinsons Nurses none of whom can take the Parkinson's away but at least they are there.  Luckily for  me the onset has been very slow and it is only in the last three years that my symptoms have worsened markedly with the onset of freezing and frequent falls. I stumble and fall a lot and still get embarassed when I just stop in the middle of the pavement or cling onto someone to stop me keeling over.

 

But I'm not alone -   it took me four  months to pluck up the courage to go to my first Parkinsons Ride meeting 

I am very glad I did!

 

 

Young onset of parkinsons

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain; the cause of this cell death is unknown. The most obvious symptoms are movement-related; these include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking, gait and balance. However Parkinson's affects people in ways different and no two people are affected in exactly the same way.
When the condition occurs at an earlier age, the effect on a younger person's life and that of their family can be profound. Diagnosis often comes at a time when many young people are still leading a very active life, perhaps developing a chosen career and raising a family.
The period after diagnosis can often be a particularly difficult time. There can be many different and conflicting emotions. Many people feel devastated. Some feel relief that a name has been given to the problems they have, particularly if they have had trouble getting a diagnosis. Others try to cope by trying to deny what is happening. Others hide it or have trouble telling their families or friends. Many people feel angry or ask, 'Why me?' Many people also feel anxious and depressed. All of the members of Parkinson's Ride have experienced some or all of these feelings.