Islington Parkinson’s sufferer’s plea: ‘Donate to charity… I’m too ill to enjoy my 80th birthday presents’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 April 2016
John Duncan won’t be receiving any presents on his 80th birthday next week.
For seven years he has watched his health deteriorate at the cruel hand of Parkinson’s disease, for which there is still no cure.
But he believes that could change one day. That’s why he’s encouraging his friends and family to donate to the Cure Parkinson’s Trust rather than buy him a gift.
Mr Duncan, of Southgate Road, Islington, said: “When you reach the age of 80, it’s quite difficult for people to find suitable presents. More importantly, I’m very aware of how many people have my disease – and of the lack of cures out there.”
Presents of bottles of whisky or wine might have been nice, he said, “but I would probably shake and drop them”.
“If people feel so inclined, donations to the Cure Parkinson’s Trust make far more sense in the long run and would help to bring a cure that much closer.
“This is a sickness for which, at the moment, there is no cure. But one will be found - perhaps not in my lifetime. Supporting a leading charity means that more funds can be made available for vital research.”
Mr Duncan has now set up a fundraising page to raise money for the charity. So far, he says, the reaction from family and friends has been very positive.
“One of my best pals said: ‘It’s a brilliant idea because I won’t have to find a present for you, you silly old bugger!’”
However, that’s not to say tat Mr Duncan won’t be celebrating his eightieth birthday.
“This Sunday, I’m having a party in our flat in Islington; and then the following weekend I’m going to the cricket ground in Hove for lunch,” he said.
“On my actual birthday, I’m going to listen to some jazz with my wonderful wife Helen. Not only is she a marvellous woman but she is also my full-time carer.”
Parkinson’s is a long-term neurological condition that is characterised by tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement. It can also cause irregular sleep patterns, lack of balance and much more.
“I have difficulty turning over in bed and I drop things all the time because I shake so much – and sometimes I ache so much I can’t sleep,” he said. “Also, I can’t smell a rose any more and my sense of taste is gone.”
Mr Duncan, who used to work in banking and corporate communications, was diagnosed in 2009 but suspects he had already had it for about three years. He describes it as “shattering experience”.
“I remember walking out of the neurology hospital in Queen Square after my diagnosis,” he told the Gazette. “I sat down outside a pub and after a silent weep I told myself: ‘I have to get on with it – there are worse things in life’. It’s too late for me, but if I can help hundreds of other sufferers in the future, then that’s the best thing.”
To donate for John Duncan’s 80th visit justgiving.com/John-DuncanJD/