Vicky Hart is our Media Officer who produced the short film “Living With Parkinson’s”.  Vicky describes how she became involved with branch and how the film came about.

David, Hilary and Vicky

David, Hilary and Vicky

I had volunteered in the past for Parkinson’s UK, because my grandpa suffered with Parkinson’s for many years, yet after struggling with some health issues myself, a couple of years had passed and I was keen to be involved once more.

I met with Michelle, our Regional Fundraiser who suggested I join the Committee at West Herts, which I did earlier this year. With a background in broadcast media and video production, the group were keen to have me on-board.

With #WorldParkinsonsDay around the corner, I suggested we produce a short film to demonstrate some of the challenges people face living with Parkinson’s to raise awareness of the condition and help find a cure.

The lead-time was tight in order to deliver in time though, with the collaborative support from our local group, we spent a morning filming with one of our beneficiaries, Hilary.

Having being diagnosed about 10 years ago, Hilary was able to convey some of the challenges Parkinson’s has had on her daily life. I was fully aware that she could be jittery on her feet, though I really wanted to show viewers some of the struggles she spoke to me about. I sensitively asked if she would be up for a bit of ‘acting’ so we could film snippets of her morning routine to demonstrate these, which she kindly agreed to.

What moved me most from our conversation was her determination to stay active, even on days when she “felt like death”. Knowing that she always felt better afterwards, she motivated herself to do some form of exercise to help with stiffness and muscle spasms. Ruth, from our group, also came along and together they went through a series of stretches in the garden to help their range of movement.

Ruth and Hilary exercising in the garden

Ruth and Hilary exercising in the garden

Due to timings, we weren’t able to join Hilary at one of the conductive exercise classes though David, her husband and our group Treasurer, kindly offered to film some clips from the class. This really helped us to put the story together in the edit and highlight some solutions that the local group are able to subsidise which makes a huge difference to those, like Hilary, living with Parkinson’s.

The work provided by local support groups is clearly much needed and very much valued by beneficiaries in the area. Through a short film we were able to weave an emotive story that can provide insight and comfort, not only to those with Parkinson’s, but also to their family, friends and carers.

On delivering the short film in time for the April campaign #UniteForParkinsons, the feedback received from the group felt rewarding, “an excellent video – spot on with the right balance of the difficulties that people with Parkinson’s face and the importance of having support and being part of a group”.

Soon after, I discovered the first annual short film festival was coming to Watford in the summer and decided to enter the film. To my unexpected delight, “Living With Parkinson’s” was officially selected and awarded at the Watford Short Film Festival which, not only delights us, but which, as a group, we hope will raise awareness and help others better understand the condition and help find a cure.

Living With Parkinson’s is available to watch here and on our homepage.

Parkinson’s West Herts from Hart In Media Ltd on Vimeo.

If you have Parkinson’s or know someone who has, get in touch with your local group to find out how they can support you.

Victoria Hart, Volunteer Media Officer