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Norwich man's battle with Parkinson's disease

PUBLISHED: 16:00 07 October 2010

Garth Ravenhill with his dog Millie; Photo: Bill Smith

Garth Ravenhill with his dog Millie; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2010

As a hospital nurse, Garth Ravenhill has cared for many elderly people with Parkinson's disease but never realised how the condition can affect someone so young - until he was diagnosed with the disease.

The 39-year-old was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition two years ago.

His initial symptom was a limp and it took a long time before medics realised what was wrong. Most people who get Parkinson’s are aged 50 or over but one in 20 is under the age of 40.

At the moment, he is still able to work as a nurse full time and go to the gym but as it is a degenerative disease, his future is unclear and it is unknown how severe the condition will get.

He is on medication but currently there is no cure.

Today, Mr Ravenhill, who lives in Laurel Road, Thorpe, urged people to sign up to the Parkinson’s pledge – a global movement to help make Parkinson’s a health, social and economic priority around the world and to work together to find a cure.

It is hoped one million people worldwide will sign up to the pledge.

Mr Ravenhill, who works with stroke patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “When I was diagnosed, I was gobsmacked, it was an absolute shock.

“As a nurse, I hadn’t come across anyone young that had it, it’s often considered to be an elderly illness. It was a shock for both me and my wife, we’re not sure what the future holds and how it will unravel.”

Mr Ravenhill recently attended the World Parkinson Congress 2010, held in Glasgow, where the Parkinson’s pledge was launched.

A number of celebrities have given their support to the campaign, including actress Jane Asher, former footballer Gary Lineker and comedian Matt Lucas.

Mr Ravenhill, whose wife Kim is also a nurse, added: “The more people who sign the Parkinson’s pledge online, the more people are aware of the condition for those who are young or old with Parkinson’s.

“I have the disease and will do my best to get on with it and fight for my future - some are not able to do this, but our awareness of the disease may make their plight easier.”

Last week, the annual Moveable Feast was held in Norwich. The event, founded by restaurateur Lloyd Addison, who died after battling Parkinson’s disease for 20 years, raised around £5,000 for Parkinson’s UK.

To sign up to the pledge, go to www.parkinsons.org.uk.

Are you battling a life-changing disease? Call Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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