Dance demo planned as part of Parkinson’s awareness week

Dance instructor Penny Woodman runs a weekly dance class for people with Parkinson's
Dance instructor Penny Woodman runs a weekly dance class for people with Parkinson's

People with Parkinson’s will be demonstrating how dance and exercise help them, as part of a national awareness campaign.

The charity Parkinson’s UK provides support for people with the condition, and their carers, through a network of groups and the Worthing and Washington branch, run entirely by volunteers, is the largest of these in the UK.

Chairman Margaret Stewart said: “As the number of people diagnosed increases, so do the numbers of people seeking support and we see more and more new members every month.

“We are approaching the 100 mark for people regularly attending our monthly meetings and as these numbers continue to rise, so does the need for more volunteers, both at the organisation level and also in helping with the many activities that are available.

“We are, of course, a charity and depend on fundraising for everything we do to support our members.”

The branch is planning an awareness day in Worthing town centre on Saturday, April 14, to raise funds to enable the activities to continue and increase as the branch gets bigger.

There will be two information stands in Montague Place from 9.30am until 3.30pm, manned by people with Parkinson’s and their carers, plus volunteer helpers.

From 12pm to 12.45pm, 24 members will put on a demonstration of dance and exercise, combined in a series of ballet moves, modern dance and Scottish reels.

Dance instructor Penny Woodman said: “You will not fail to be amazed at how people with Parkinson’s, some with severe mobility problems, have taken to the weekly dance class and seen some improvement.

“Join in with the class members as they do the routines. You will easily spot them as they will be wearing something blue.”

Parkinson’s Awareness Week is a national campaign from Tuesday, April 10, to Monday, April 16.

The Worthing and Washington branch will have an information table at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham on Tuesday from 10am to 4pm, then tin collection points at Haskins Garden Centre Roundstone and Asda Ferring on Friday from 9.30am to 4pm.

Latest studies by Parkinson’s UK, the leading charity providing support and funding for research into the incurable neurological condition, reveals there are around 145,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK. Every day 50 more people are diagnosed and it is expected that by 2025, the total number will be 168,000, as the population continues to grow and age.

Chief executive Steve Ford said: “What these latest figures will help us do is talk with more urgency about the scale of the issue. The more people diagnosed, the more care Service providers, policy makers and drug companies will need to take notice and action.

“By the end of 2018, we’ll have a clearer picture of what’s working well, and where bigger improvements are needed. We can put the plans in place for 2020 and beyond to bring us closer to the day we can say ‘people used to have Parkinson’s’.”

The charity provides support for people who suffer from the condition and their carers, through a network of local groups and the Worthing and Washington Group is the largest of these in the UK, run entirely by volunteers.

Worthing and Washington branch committee member Rod Herod, who has Parkinson’s, said: “I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s since 2009 and joined the Worthing branch in 2013.

“The numbers have increased significantly during that time. As a result, we have greatly increased the activities available to help people with the condition live a better life.

“We now offer all our members three different weekly and two weekly exercise classes according to ability, speech improvement classes, monthly coffee mornings for carers, a weekly dance exercise session, all day monthly meetings with opportunities to chat to people with the same issues, and to do yet more exercise routines, plus get information from an extensive library of associated books and leaflets.

“There is also a monthly lunch club, which meets in venues across Sussex to enjoy good food and good conversations and every now and then we go further afield on a coach outing.

“Once a month there is a meeting where people with Parkinson’s can just meet for an hour and chat, and for those who enjoy sketching and painting there is a two-weekly art class.

“For the members who live further afield into the Sussex countryside, there is a growing group sharing two hours of time at Washington Memorial Hall once a month, discussing all kinds of issues related to Parkinson’s and led by Maureen Johnson.

“A full programme such as this requires good communication and we publish a much-liked quarterly newsletter, Parkinson’s Progress, to keep members up to date and informed.”