‘It’s a major challenge to take on but we’re looking forward to it’

UP FOR IT Ex-field gunners at HMS Excellent prepare for gun run, left and top right.     Picture: Allan Hutchings (112211-725)
UP FOR IT Ex-field gunners at HMS Excellent prepare for gun run, left and top right. Picture: Allan Hutchings (112211-725)

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A GROUP of men who suffer from Parkinson’s are set to take on one of the toughest physical challenges for charity.

The team will take part in a field gun run during the Armed Forces weekend at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Saturday and Sunday.

UP FOR IT Ex-field gunners at HMS Excellent prepare for gun run, left and top right.     Picture: Allan Hutchings (112211-800)

UP FOR IT Ex-field gunners at HMS Excellent prepare for gun run, left and top right. Picture: Allan Hutchings (112211-800)

The gruelling challenge will see the men transport a field gun and its equipment around a course, competing against other teams.

Former navy chief Petty Officer Nigel Ayling, 47, decided to organise the charity gun run.

Mr Ayling, of Welch Road, Gosport, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was just 38.

It forced him to leave the navy and give up his once physical and active life.

He said the challenge was a great way to raise money for the Portsmouth Working Age Parkinson’s Group, a support group for sufferers who are under the retirement age.

Mr Ayling, who is chairman of the group, said: ‘I came up with the idea because I thought it would be a good way of raising some money for the support group. Also, I used to do field gun runs when I was in the navy.

‘It will be a huge physical challenge for someone with Parkinson’s because it affects the mobility of our joints and the nervous system.

‘It basically affects you getting around. We will obviously do the gun run in a lot slower time than other people. We’re all looking forward to it though. It’s going to be a major thing for us all to do.’

Parkinson’s is a neurological condition which affects mobility and the nervous system.

Six Parkinson’s sufferers will take part in the challenge on both days of the weekend. Not all are former navy personnel but some are from other professions as well.

They will be joined by some of their carers and field gun runners from the navy.

Mr Ayling said: ‘It’s going to be a special event because I believe it’s the first time civilians have done the field gun run and definitely the first time people with an illness have.’

If you would like to sponsor the field gun run team contact Nick Posford at the Portsmouth Working Age Parkinson’s Group on 0844 225 9845 or email rf.south@parkinsons.org.uk.

The support group is part of the Portsmouth branch of Parkinson’s UK.

ARMED FORCES DAY

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard events:

· Field Gun Display Team 11.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday and Sunday

· HMS Daring and HMS Gloucester open to public 10am to 3.30pm on Saturday and Sunday

· 1940s street party. 2pm to 4.30pm on Saturday only

· Centenary celebrations for the National Museum of the Royal Navy 11am to 4pm on Sunday only

· HMS Nelson band performs 11am and 1.30pm Saturday and Sunday, with additional performance at 3.15pm Saturday

· Band of the Royal Marines perform 12.30pm and 3.45pm on Sunday only

· Various workshops on HMS Warrior 11am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday

· Mary Rose Tudor craft workshops 10am to 4pm on Saturday only