Fears for the future of Fareham Parkinson’s help group

HELP From left, Elizabeth Buck, Marion Warner and Julia Hamlin
HELP From left, Elizabeth Buck, Marion Warner and Julia Hamlin
David Cotton. Picture: Sussex Police

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A GROUP which helps those suffering from Parkinson’s disease could be forced to close unless a new chairman is found.

The Fareham and district branch of Parkinson’s UK has been running for more than 30 years and helps 200 people across the area, including those suffering from the disease and their carers.

Now, the group is seeking a chairman to devote at least two hours a week to chairing meetings and taking part in events. It comes as the current chairman is due to step down after eight years.

But the group has been warned it will fold if it can’t find a chairman to take over.

Marion Warner, 67, is a committee member and suffers from Parkinson’s disease herself.

She has been a member for the past 15 years.

She said: ‘It’s absolutely vital – a lifeline for those suffering from it.

‘They can access all the different services.

‘When I joined it was a small membership that used to meet in Hill Head.

‘It helps to meet and socialise and not to feel like an outcast.’

The group takes part in exercise classes, coffee mornings and activities such as quizzes and group trips.

‘I felt like I was totally alone before,’ added Marion.

‘I was devastated with the diagnosis.

‘But at least there was some help and support.’

The group now gets about four new members joining every week.

Julia Hamlin, committee member, said: ‘It would be devastating not only for the social side which is important, but for the access to things like hydrotherapy and education.

‘It’s a lifeline – not only for those with Parkinson’s but their carers and family as well.

‘To be able to keep such a dynamic group going would be great.’

Elizabeth Buck, information officer, added: ‘It’s about knowing that there are other people out there. We are a self help group. So other people know exactly how you feel.

‘Without that support I don’t know what they would do.

‘If they couldn’t come here, where else would they go?’

To find out more, call Carol Howell on 01329 280609 before Monday.