A Sheffield woman is challenging locals to ‘up their friendly’ as part of this year’s Parkinson’s Awareness Week.
Jennie Powell, from Beauchief, was diagnosed with the disease six years ago and has since done all she can to speak up about Parkinson’s and raise money for research.
Parkinson’s is a progressive condition where the brain becomes more damaged over many years.
Symptoms include involuntary shaking - known as tremors - and muscle stiffness. There can also be non-physical symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, anxiety and depression.
Jenny, aged 72, said: “My Parkinson’s became horribly worse in the autumn. Due to a mis-match in medication I suffered hallucinations and it came to a crisis on a Saturday night.
“I went to the end of the road and between there and my home, to me it looked like it was full of pantomime villains with hideous faces. I escaped into gardens - eventually a neighbour found me and took me home.”
This kindness in a time of need is exactly what Parkinson’s UK’s #upyourfriendly campaign is all about.
A helping hand or friendly word can brighten up anyone’s day - but for the 127,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK, being patient and kind means much more.
After her diagnosis, Jennie took up pebble polishing as a way to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK, and also to strike up a conversation about the disease.
She has raised almost £3,000 for charity by selling her wares to friends, family members and supporters.
She said: “It gave me a sense of purpose, because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”
Parkinson’s Awareness Week runs until Sunday. The Sheffield branch is marking the occasion through a number of events including a Waldershelf Singers Benefit Concert on Saturday at Holy Trinity Church, Millhouses, from 6.45pm.
The concert also features the voices of the Steel City Tremalores - a singing group comprising members with Parkinson’s.