WHEN Patricia Barrett was diagnosed with ataxia last year, she hadn’t even heard of the condition.
Her eyesight began to suffer so she was sent to hospital for checks.
It was then, last September, she was diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia – a neurological disease which affects mobility, movement, balance and speech.
The 46-year-old from Fairfield Avenue in Fareham, ‘It all started when my eyesight went funny. I had blurry vision. I just thought I needed new glasses but the optician sent me to the hospital.’
Patricia often has to use a wheelchair and regularly suffers from muscle spasms.
She had to cut down her working hours and now only works three days a week at Ladbrokes in Fareham.
‘It was devastating when I was diagnosed,’ she said.
‘But Ataxia UK was really good. Every single person with ataxia is different.
‘They are affected at different times. It progressed quite quickly for me. It was upsetting. When I was diagnosed I was trying to explain it to people, nobody had heard of it.’
Now, two of her friends are going to take part in a skydive in a bid to raise money and awareness of the condition.
Friends Samantha Eggleton, 37, and Karolyn Morison, 41, are preparing to skydive in September to raise cash for the charity.
Patricia said she is thrilled her friends are supporting her. ‘It’s brilliant,’ she said.
‘I’m proud of them. It’s fantastic because it’s a good cause and it gives something back to the charity.’
Karolyn said: ‘I have always thought it would be great but I never thought anybody would ask me to do it.
‘I’m absolutely terrified. I’m so frightened. But I want to do it and I am excited.
‘Patricia’s not much older than me so to see somebody progress in that way is a shock.’
Samantha added: ‘I said I had always wanted to do it but I wasn’t expecting it to be this soon.
‘I’m excited. I always like rollercoasters and theme parks so I am imagining this will be a bit better. I think I will be fine.’
Debbie Bowers, Patricia’s brother’s partner will also join in with the skydive.
If you would like to make a donation, visit justgiving.com/Patricia-Barrett