High Peak family join Parkinson's UK fundraising walk in memory of loved one

A High Peak mother and daughter will be stepping out this weekend with hundreds of other people whose lives have been touched by Parkinson’s disease as a national charity stages a huge Derbyshire fundraising event to support patients, families and scientific research.

By Ed Dingwall
Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 8:58 am

Buxton resident Emma Lewis, aged 33, and Jean Cheetham, 62, from Wormhill, are taking part in the Walk for Parkinson's UK at Hardwick Hall on Saturday, July 2.

Emma said: “Parkinson’s changed the lives of our family when our grandad, dad, husband and friend could no longer work the farm he loved, greet us with his warm smile and live unaided.

“He remained grateful for life and help throughout his deteriorating health and was an amazing advocate for resilience in the face of adversity. It is in the name of Edwin Ridgway that we walk for Parkinson’s and support the charity in supporting other families.”

Emma Lewis, left, her mum Jean and sister Jade are passionate supporters of Parkinson's UK.

Parkinson’s is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system involving the death of cells producing dopamine – a neurotransmitter crucial to bodily functions including movement, memory and reward and motivation.

There are more than 40 symptoms, from tremor and pain to anxiety. Some are treatable, but the drugs can have serious side effects.

Emma said: “Edwin was a hard-working and capable hill farmer who dedicated himself to turn a derelict old farm into productive grassland. Life changed for him and all of us when at 50 years old he started with tremors.

“My broad, healthy grandad deteriorated to a frail, shivering shell of a man. We were saying our goodbyes at Manchester Royal Infirmary, convinced it was a brain tumour. But the amazing hospital staff were able to diagnose Parkinson’s and give Edwin a pill which allowed him to walk out of the hospital independently and back into the arms of his family.”

She added: “Edwin lived with Parkinson’s for 20 years with the help of the NHS. We were grateful for every second. The saddest part was that this condition took away his heart-warming smile and replaced it with a blank expressionless face we no longer recognised.

“My grandad was a kind and caring man and even as a toddler I understood when he found pleasure in my presence and the days that he found the hardest.”

According to Parkinson’s UK, the number of people in the world living with the disease is growing faster than any other neurological condition. In the UK alone, 145,000 people now live with it and two more are diagnosed every hour.

Emma said: “We lost my grandad in the ‘90s so haven’t used the support services but understand how crucial they are. He would be so pleased to see the work of Parkinson’s UK and the advances that have been made. He was at times ridiculed by strangers for his shakes and appearance, it is so important to us that the charity raise awareness so that people suffering with Parkinson’s receive understanding and support, not ignorant mocking.

“That is why we consistently support fundraising, and hope many more are able to join in too, for vital research into a cure and providing patients and their families with the much needed help and support to overcome the difficulties and hardships brought about by Parkinson’s.”

To add to Emma and Jean’s fundraising total, go to https://bit.ly/39SlD3d.

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