Our chair Gary Shaughnessy looks ahead to 2021

In 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) brought normal life to a standstill. But the Parkinson’s community showed its resilience as people found innovative ways to support each other.

A time to be heard

2021 has already brought dramatic swings of emotion. The rush of hope as the coronavirus vaccine rolls out. The continuing reality of the pandemic’s impact on our community. Watch this powerful video created by our community, where people share how their lives changed in the last year. 

We have the hope that comes with the news that Parkinson’s UK is investing up to £800,000 in the future of GDNF, through the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, our drug development arm. The focus will be on leading the planning and preparation for what will hopefully be a new GDNF trial.

The GDNF participant group helped keep the potential of a new trial alive and we share the belief that GDNF has the potential to be a life changing treatment for people with Parkinson’s. Together, we won’t stop until we’ve explored every possible avenue for its development. Read more about GDNF.

Another recent highlight was Ending Parkinson’s, an outstanding webinar organised by the Oxford Parkinson’s UK branch. The brilliant webinar heard from Ray Dorsey and Bas Bloem, who wrote a book also named Ending Parkinson's. They spoke on preventing another generation of Parkinson’s, urging us to be heard and be heard now.

They also spoke of a decade until we see firm progress to a cure. The webinar was incredibly compelling and memorable, but my business career taught me that a decade means we all settle for longer and that just isn’t acceptable. Like Ray and Bas, Parkinson’s UK is determined to be louder and drive progress now through research, action and making your voices heard. 

To continue this work, I ask you to take 3 immediate actions:

At the same time, we’re working to increase awareness of Parkinson’s across society. Our Time for Can campaign launched last November and has helped increase awareness and raise funds. I know that some found the advert a bit brutal, but others felt it was time to be more stark. Watch the TV advert.

Delivering at a time of opportunity

As well as driving forward progress for people with Parkinson's, we’re also looking for a new CEO for the first time in 15 years.

I was pleased to welcome Shān Nicholas as Interim Chief Executive, who joined the organisation on 18 January 2021. Read more about Shān’s experience.
Our search for a new CEO is a fantastic opportunity for an exceptional person who has the passion, ambition and drive to deliver the change that people with Parkinson’s need, and to capitalise on the momentum we have. They must also have a passionate belief in the cause of the Parkinson’s community and the 1m people, including loved ones, affected by this relentless condition. Read more about the vacancy.