Coastal call from Parkinson’s UK

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Parkinson’s UK is asking people to push themselves to their limit on a magical new challenge on Saturday, September 8.

The fully supported event, which is centred on taking on the clifftops, beaches and footpaths of the North Atlantic Coast, is open to anyone who wants to test themselves over a 12-mile, 18-mile or marathon coastal walk or run taking in the UNESCO World Heritage Site – covering Ballintoy Harbour, Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway itself.

All money raised by the event will go towards ensuring high quality health and social care for people with Parkinson’s at every step of their journey with the condition. Parkinson’s UK is organising the challenge in conjunction with True Grit events, which specialise in adventure and challenge events.

Every hour, two people in the UK are told they have Parkinson’s. It is a degenerative neurological condition for which there currently is no cure, and its main symptoms are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Parkinson’s UK is driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

Local woman Hilary McCloy, 68, who lives 20 miles from the Causeway itself with her husband Victor. Once representative-level badminton players, they were always sporty and it was a shock when Victor was diagnosed with the condition. Hilary, who is going to walk the 12 miles to fundraise for better support services,said: “Away from a golf course walking has not been something I have done in the past, but it is such a vital cause so my son Michael signed me up immediately and I am delighted to be involved.

“Parkinson’s has been a real challenge for the whole family, given that we were so sporty. That we have a whole team now joining our efforts shows the strength of feeling locally for the work the charity already does, and for the case that we need more support for those living with the condition.”

This brand-new event will be the first long-distance challenge Parkinson’s UK have organised in Northern Ireland.

Well-known local broadcaster Claire McCollum is urging people to sign up for the event because of her own family connections with Parkinson’s.

She said: “Parkinson’s UK is a charity that’s really close to my heart. They offer vital support to people living with Parkinson’s like my dad, and their loved ones too.

“I have seen first-hand that it’s a condition that can take so much from those living with it.

“The good news is, you can do your bit to help provide better support by signing up to take part.”