The British retailer NEXT, in partnership with Parkinson’s UK, has launched an exclusive range of home accessories and kids’ t-shirts featuring designs by artist Alex Echo who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago. 100 per cent of the profits from the range will go to the charity to fund vital Parkinson’s services.
The 63-year-old internationally-renowned and self-taught artist has been creating art for four decades and has seen his work exhibited in some of the world's most prestigious art galleries. Alex had been experiencing Parkinson’s symptoms for around 7 years before being diagnosed and the inspiration behind the collection comes from his experience of receiving love, kindness and compassion when he was diagnosed. His bold and uplifting designs feature on a cushion and unisex kids’ t-shirts based on the concept of ‘share the love.’ Alex has also painted one of his signature rabbit sculptures, naming it after the founder of Parkinson’s UK, Mali Jenkins. The sculpture is being sold by Castle Fine Art, who represent Alex, with 10 per cent of the profits from the sale of the piece going to the charity.
The launch is an extension of the partnership between Parkinson’s UK and NEXT which began earlier this year with a range of exclusive adult t-shirts and tote bags designed by a Boyswear Designer at NEXT, who also has Parkinson’s. The partnership stems from a shared ambition to increase understanding of Parkinson’s as a ‘hidden disability’ alongside championing diversity and disability inclusion.
A survey carried out by Parkinson’s UK in 2019 to tackle public misconceptions, found that a quarter (24 per cent) of people had been told they were 'too young’ to have Parkinson's. The condition, however, can affect people of all ages and in different ways. Not all people with Parkinson’s suffer from tremors or slowness of movement, many have ‘hard to spot’ or non-motor symptoms such as cognitive changes or mental health issues, making it a ‘hidden disability’.
Alex Echo said:
“I am so excited and proud to partner with NEXT and Parkinson’s UK to help get more people understanding Parkinson’s through joy, love and good vibes. When I was diagnosed, I appreciated the compassion that was shown to me at the time by a friend. I relished in the kindness people showed me. I want to give that back and I want to share the love.
“As an individual living with Parkinson’s, I wanted to get some feel-good messages out there for the Parkinson’s community. The colours in the range are so vibrant and evoke positivity and happiness. It would be amazing to see this range sell out and raise money for people living with Parkinson’s, whatever their age, so that they get the right support and are never left out. I also hope some kid playing on the sofa with that pillow under their head feels the softness and feels safe.”
Parkinson's is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, and currently there is no cure. There are 145,000 people living with the condition in the UK and of those, 1,752 (1.2 per cent) are under the age of 50.
The proceeds from the range will directly fund the transformation of Parkinson’s UK services and enable the charity to provide personalised support to people with Parkinson’s, their families, friends and carers. It will also fund a support programme for other younger people with Parkinson’s.
Lisa Gill, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Parkinson's UK, said:
“We’re delighted to continue our partnership with NEXT and announce the launch of Alex Echo’s exclusive collection. Since his diagnosis, Alex has been a generous supporter of Parkinson’s UK and we’re really grateful that NEXT has chosen to use his designs.
“Alex is a huge inspiration to the Parkinson’s community and his journey is all about overcoming adversity through creativity, community, reaching out and ‘sharing the love.’ We hope his art reaches many people and raises greater awareness and vital funds to provide services for people living with Parkinson’s so they, and their loved ones, get the support that they need.”
The LOVE kids’ t-shirts cost £8-14 each while the LOVE cushion costs £26. The items are available online. To shop the collection and support Parkinson’s UK, visit next.co.uk/shop/promotion-parkinsonsuk