Branch meeting – Cambridge Scientist and latest Reseach

Dr Simoon Stott

We were delighted when Dr Simon Stott kindly stepped in when one of his colleagues at the Brain Repair Lab in Cambridge University was unable to make the Branch Meeting.  Despite the technology not working Simon gave us an entertaining journey through his own research, and gave an informative picture of where the science is at the moment and where advances are being made on future treatment.  If you want to see more of Simon’s clear and accessible explanations go his website, The Science of Parkinson’s Disease

A full house listeningg to our speaker

Simon is working on the analysis of the breath of Parkinson’s people and the clever breathalyser is proving remarkably accurate.


Meeting the next generation of physiotherapists

A group of people with Parkinson’s was invited to meet with second year physiotherapy students at the University of Hertfordshire recently. Their tutor, Dr Karen Baker invited us because these young students may never see a patient with the condition until they are qualified and working in clinics.  She wanted them to at least have an idea of how different individuals showed different symptoms and five of us were more than pleased to oblige and help the students understand what they may see.  Becki Hadley also came along to talk to the students about the work of the Dance Psychology Lab and her own PhD studies. 

We saw two different sets of students who were engaged and interested in our stories.  They asked very pertinent questions about our diagnosis and our various experiences.  We were asked to walk up and down the classroom and they were remarkably observant in their comments. We were all, I think, impressed with their welcome and we wish these students the very best in their future studies.  We have no doubt, from what we saw of them, that they will make excellent physiotherapists.

Those taking part were David Stanfield, June Pumford, John Garrick, Janet Roberts, Jane Gilmour and Ruth Herman.  We would all be happy to visit the next set of students next year.



Thank you to Old Verulamians

Many Thanks to the Old Verulamian Association

On Saturday 7th October the Old Verulamian Association held an event to present gifts to charities serving their local community.  David Lucas presented Janet Roberts with a generous gift of £300  towards  Branch activities.  Janet expressed thanks on behalf of the Branch indicating the wide range of activities that would benefit .

The evening also included a very interesting  talk on the history of the Abbey Church of St Alban with an overview of the improvements currently underway. A delicious meal rounded up the event.


Quizzical Times

Quiz night teams
Quiz night teams

West Herts Parkinson’s Quiz Night began with a packed room at Herts Bowling Club in Watford. The evening was divided into two halves by a buffet supper to sustain the competitors.  The questions were challenging and the final positions had the two leading teams within one mark of each other.  But the Unlikely Lot pipped the Dark Nights to the post.

As it was my team who won modesty forbids me to comment on the awesome breadth of knowledge displayed by my colleagues. I can, however, admit that anyone who knows that medieval Paris had to be defended against the Vikings might need to get out more.

More to the point, Ruth Venn once more has to be congratulated and thanked for her usual brilliant organisation. When we left the amount raised for the branch was not yet confirmed but it was likely to be several hundred pounds.

Quiz night team
The winning team

And we have here a photograph of the winning team (minus one of the members who was taking the photo).



A few more photos of the evening:





















Caring for carers

In many cases, the person sitting next to the person with Parkinson’s is the carer, a relative, spouse or friend who has given up much of their independent life to do so.  Our September speaker was Roma Mills, the Carers Involvement Manager for Carers in Hertfordshire, part of a national organisation devoted to caring for the carers.  The organisation she represents is concerned with the estimated 6.5 million people in the country many of whom have had to give up work to do this important and underestimated role.

Roma, who herself has experience of being a carer, gave us a very concise and thought provoking picture of what carers do and their value to the NHS. She pointed out the efforts GPs, hospitals and health professionals make to improve their situation. Paradoxically the stress the carers put themselves under psychologically, financially and physically can cause a major deterioration in their own health rendering them less able to do the work which they have undertaken, often out of a sense of love and duty.  Roma explained how her colleagues were ready to help carers, of whatever age or background and some of  the services they provide.  Crucially the care continues after the loved one may have passed away.

If you feel that Roma and her organisation can help you contact them on:

Tel: 01992 586969
Fax: 01992 586969
The Red House
119 Fore Street
SG14 1AX


A Personal Best and £1000 raised for Parkinson’s – Well done Margaret!

Margaret fund raised and walked to achieve a personal best.

After doing the exercise program STABLE last November and following a difficult time in my life I decided to set myself a challenge, so I signed up for a 6 mile circular walk near Packwood House in the West Midlands with one of my daughters in support.  The challenge committed me to getting in the best physical shape I could, doing the walk and raising as much money as I could.   I did my exercises most days, I swam two or three times each week and walked most days.   I mostly used my walking poles as they help my balance and also help me to keep up a regular rhythm.   I did three walks of 6 miles or more in the weeks before the walk to give myself confidence that I would manage on the day.   I started fund raising about ten weeks before and went on for a couple of weeks after the walk raising over £1000 which is double the target I set myself.  In the event I was joined, not only by my daughter Charlie but her twin sister Nicky, son in law Martin and one of my grandson, Ashley.    With them I managed to do the walk in my personal best, two and a quarter hours with only one brief stop

The walk was very well organised with about 140 people taking part including  children and dogs.   The weather wasn’t brilliant but at least the rain held off until we had almost finished.   When I finished I got a lovely  hug from the team organiser, and was relieved and emotional when she said I should be very proud of myself!   Actually I am, but more importantly doing the challenge has left me feeling fitter, more positive, well supported and amazed at how many people were glad to pay up!!

 Margaret Stone


A visit from a friendly face

A little while ago the St Albans support group were treated to a visit from Oakley, a Hungarian Vizsla.  He brought with him his sister (whose name we didn’t catch), and his best friend, Kim Ray.  Oakley, who is blind, has a very important role.  He visits retirement and care homes to give the people there a hello and the opportunity to stroke and make a fuss of him. It sounds like an ideal job although the job description requires a furry coat and an amiable disposition

The touch and engagement with animals such has been proved to be very beneficial to people who may have a variety of problems. The organisation which sent Oakley to visit us was Pets As Therapy.  They are a national charity whose aim is to “enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals”. They provide a visiting service in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues all across the UK.

As neither Oakley nor his sister can drive they are chauffeured around by Kim.   As you can see from the photo, Oakley is devoted to Kim and we have no doubt makes lots of friends as he goes about his commendable job.


Fancy some Yoga?

We are in the process of training qualified Yoga teachers to design and run classes all over the county for people with Parkinson’s.

How does this affect you? You can take part in a  pilot training session run by someone who is not only an expert yoga instructor but is also a very senior physiotherapist specialising in neurological conditions.  This will be the first chance to trial this new venture and you can take advantage of this unique opportunity.

We are inviting people to attend this beginners’ Yoga class.  So if you fit the bill below:

  • You want a free Yoga class
  • Can travel to Hitchin.
  • Are free on Saturday 28th October for one hour from 3pm

Then please contact Julie Wilson on 0300 123 3675    Reasonable travel expenses are paid.