Here's to you: our amazing volunteers

From cheering on runners at the London Marathon, coordinating Parkinson’s cafes, supporting our campaigns, to speaking in the community - the 4,000 people who volunteer with Parkinson’s UK make a huge difference to the lives of people living with the condition. 

To celebrate and to say a very big THANK YOU to each and every one of you out there, we’re sharing just some of the ways you’ve been supporting Parkinson’s UK.

Jon

My 82-year-old father has advanced Parkinson’s so volunteering for Parkinson’s UK felt like a natural thing for me to do.

I volunteer as an event photographer and I have now photographed seven Walk for Parkinson’s events. It’s not uncommon to see groups of work colleagues, friends and several family generations walking together - often in support of somebody they know who has been affected by the condition.

Some of the locations are stunning, and I get the opportunity to capture the fantastic achievement of the walkers and the great atmosphere of the day.

I’d personally like to say a big thank you to the thousands of walkers and fellow volunteers who have supported a Walk for Parkinson’s event!

Ashlee

My grandad died when I was 17 years old. He was my best friend. Our family didn’t know about the support that was out there for people with Parkinson’s so we went through everything alone. My grandma gave her all to care for him until he passed away.

I do a lot of volunteering for Parkinson’s UK because not everyone has to go through Parkinson’s alone like my grandad and my family did.

I fit my volunteering around my career as a paralegal. One of my highlights was being part of an attention-grabbing flashmob in Gateshead. It helped engage the public in the work we do to help us take a step closer to a cure.

Ashlee
Ashlee pictured with her grandmother

David

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2003, at 38. For the first three or four years I had no real contact with the charity. When I moved to Carlisle in 2008, I met the local adviser who suggested I go to my local group to see what was going on. From there I found out about volunteering, and signed up to be a volunteer educator.

In the role we’re trained to give presentations to care staff and other professionals about the condition. This includes information on symptoms, ways of managing them, different treatments, and the importance of getting medication on time. It’s all about increasing understanding of Parkinson’s.

A couple of years ago I was at the University of Cumbria talking to a group of 15 physiotherapists. I think it makes a difference - I want people to realise Parkinson’s affects younger people as well.

I’m also really passionate about running. I recently did my 90th parkrun [weekly 5km timed running events]. The parkrun community has been so supportive - one of the best things someone said to me was ‘I don’t see you as a person with Parkinson’s, I see you as a runner’. I’m treated like everybody else. It’s kept me going, and I’d love to see more people with Parkinson’s running, so I’m working with the local staff in the area to find out how we can get more people with Parkinson’s to get active.

Lesley

I feel very privileged to see the huge amount of work that is going on to find a cure.

Parkinson’s research is entering an exciting time with many new ideas and research opportunities. An incredible amount of work goes into each and every research submission - researchers understand the science, but no-one understands the condition better than those with Parkinson’s or caring for a loved one.

This is why I volunteer as a lay grant reviewer, which basically means I use my experience of the condition to help choose the right research projects to fund.

It helps ensure the funding is used most effectively, and that the research Parkinson’s UK funds is beneficial to patients.

The time commitment is minimal and extremely worthwhile. I feel very privileged to see the huge amount of work that is going on to find a cure.

Mandy

My mum was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was 54 and I was in my 30s. We immediately found our local branch and went along. The mainly-elderly members were pleased to see two young people, and made me treasurer after a few meetings!

Sadly, in 1998, my mum passed away. 21 years later, volunteering with Parkinson’s UK is still a part of my life. I received a letter from one of the members asking me to continue volunteering - they were relying on me to help out. I wasn’t a carer anymore, so I had time to offer.

The reward aspect of volunteering is great. I even met my husband volunteering! It’s not all about raising money – it’s about paying someone a visit, or giving them a phone call. At the moment I’m a hairdresser and I do people’s hair in residential homes. It means so much to that person and you gain a friend too. I’d encourage anyone to give volunteering a try, because whatever pleasure you give to others, it will come back to you a thousand times over.

Lola

I used to work at a big accounting firm in London. I decided to resign in 2015 to focus on my final accountancy exams, and I qualified as a chartered certified accountant in 2016.

I applied to become treasurer at the Amersham and High Wycombe Branch to service my local community and gain experience. I couldn’t have made a better choice!

I’m often answering questions we get at the branch about the support we offer. Knowing how we make a difference to people’s lives is one of the most fulfilling parts of the role.

Lola in garden
Lola pictured at her home

Karen

My daughter Abby kickstarted my volunteering. She learned about Parkinson’s in a class project on Billy Connelly, and was inspired to carry out a year of fundraising for Parkinson’s UK. She even met the man himself - he was wonderful and spent ages chatting with her.

No one in our family has a direct link with the condition, but we’ve been so inspired by the Scottish Parkinson’s community that in 2018 I spoke to businesses to convince more than 80 venues to light up and turn Scotland cyan for World Parkinson’s Day. I also think up fundraising ideas for different events.

I want to inspire others to learn more about Parkinson’s and raise awareness among those who don’t know about the condition.

Caitlin and Bryony

We hope to inspire other younger people to get involved.

We lost our father at the age of 14 to Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a Parkinson’s Plus condition. Our Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award brought the perfect opportunity to get involved with supporting Parkinson’s UK.

It’s been a busy year as we’re both doing our A-Levels. But volunteering is quite flexible and we’ve done a few things, from helping with coffee mornings to supporting the Leeds Castle walk. We hope to inspire other younger people to get involved. And it also gives us a bit of a break from studying!