Parkinson’s patient 200 mile research fund bid

Norman Yarrow will be  walking the Southern Upland Way for two charities. Picture: Jon Savage
Norman Yarrow will be walking the Southern Upland Way for two charities. Picture: Jon Savage
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A Parkinson’s sufferer is set to trek more than 200 miles for charity in a bid to beat his debilitating condition.

Norman Yarrow, from Gullane in East Lothian, will take his walking stick in hand and tackle the 215-mile route along the Southern Upland Way next week, travelling from Portpatrick in the south-west of the country to Cockburnspath, just south of Dunbar.

The 55-year-old was diagnosed with Parkinson’s two years ago after overcoming a battle with lung cancer – during which two thirds of one lung was removed – and now struggles with his mobility on the right-hand side of his body.

But the determined campaigner, whose 94-year-old dad Sir Eric Yarrow is one of the best-known names in British shipbuilding, is intent on rising to the challenge and has already raised more than £130,000 for Parkinson’s UK and the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

The businessman will be joined on the charity hike – which he has dubbed 
Norman’s Conquest – by Scottish rugby and Lions legend Gavin Hastings, whose wife Diana was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2003. More than 100 other people will also take part over certain days.

Mr Yarrow said: “My Parkinson’s isn’t too bad at the moment. People wouldn’t really know I’ve got it, but I’ve got very little movement in the right-hand side of my body.

“This is a long-term degenerative disease, and I’m trying to raise as much money for research as I can because I’m cautiously optimistic that a breakthrough could occur in the next five to ten years. The Holy Grail is to reverse the progression of the disease.

“I have been most gratified by the support and optimism I have received from Parkinson’s UK and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Both charities are working tirelessly to find treatments that will stop the progression of this debilitating neurological
condition, and there is hope that in my lifetime they may even be able to find a cure.

“I’m just doing a tiny little bit, but you never know – my small effort may help. I use a stick and I limp a bit, but I still walk at a reasonable pace. Hopefully it should be okay – we have a lot of support from a lot of different people.

“I hope the funds I raise will make a real difference to 
people living with Parkinson’s. Support gives me hope and is very much appreciated.”

Norman’s Conquest will kick off on April 21 and finish on May 4, with Mr Yarrow hoping to walk around 15 miles a day.

Tom Issacs, president and co-founder of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, insisted the intrepid businessman 
epitomised everything the charity sought to achieve.

He said: “In conquering the Southern Upland Way, Norman will defy all the odds that Parkinson’s disease throws at him.”

Paul Jackson-Clark, Director of Fundraising at Parkinson’s UK, said: “I’d like to say thank you and good luck to Norman. It is only with the incredible support of amazing people like Norman that we can continue our work.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com