Big thank you from

Jenny Monroe talks to Jim Henry, Chairman of the Lisburn Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society

Jim HenryJIM Henry, 65, is the Chairman of the Lisburn Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society) (PDS). Since the autumn of 2007 the Branch has been offering twice monthly physiotherapy sessions for people affected by Parkinson's in addition to its usual monthly programme of events. The group offers support all year round for people with Parkinson's in Lisburn Parkinson's is a complex and fluctuating neurological condition that affects movements such as walking, talking and writing. Physiotherapy and speech therapy have proved successful ways of helping to improve the symptoms of the condition.

Branch members pay a small annual membership fee which covers the cost of the therapy sessions and most of the other activities and services offered by the branch.

Jim who is retired, was diagnosed four years ago with the disease but at that time a specialist nurse was unavailable and he didn't know where to go for help or advice. His wife Thelma put him in touch with what was then known as the Parkinson's Disease support group in Lisburn which turned out to be a very helpful body to Jim who took a great interest in it. The support group then became a branch of it's own and Jim was elected Chairman last year.

I normally wake about 7am and once I waken I can't lie on. After breakfast I like to do some computer work. I have always had a great interest in amateur radio so I might spend some time on that. I like designing web pages too. As well as all of this I will be keeping up to date with emails concerning PDS. The Secretary of our Lisburn Branch is in regular contact with me discussing events, meetings, committees and consulting over issues. A new group is being launched in Newtownards so I have been asked to liase with the members and give them guidance on what we did when we were setting up and what we are doing now. The AGM is coming up soon so I am busy preparing reports on the year and looking at courses to introduce. Speech therapy sessions have now been introduced this month and will hopefully continue for the foreseeable future. Some therapies have long waiting lists and access can be difficult, which is why we started paying for the treatment as a Branch. Since we started the service we have had wonderful feedback from people who have found their movement has improved and we believe our new speech therapy programme will bring about similar improvements in relation to their speech and swallowing, which can also be a difficulty for people with this condition. I invite anyone with Parkinson's to join our Branch so they can benefit from these services, which can be hard to come by.

We have an interesting programme of events planned for the year. In addition to regular summer and Christmas outings speakers will

cover topics ranging from crime prevention and nursing care to the life of Baroness Blood. As Chairman I guide the meetings we hold in as structured a way as possible. I brief myself on the guest speakers and am involved in coming up with fundraising groups. I am also heavily involved in the campaign to get one or two specialist nurses within the South Eastern Trust. It is vital we get specialist nurses for the area in the long term. I encourage anyone with Parkinson's to come along to one of the meetings and experience it for themselves. Being involved has given me the opportunity to highlight the whole issue in the area and put forward arguments for improvements for sufferers.

Ulster Star