When I was asked to write a short article on coping with Parkinson’s Disease I was as you can imagine, delighted to see my name in print.
Previously, the nearest I had ever got to such status was being editor of a London-based Parish magazine and that was in my youth!
This voluntary job suited me well as it allowed me to talk to others on a range of issues which affected the local community. These issues were often of a delicate and personal nature.
The local community delivery area for the magazine included the now famous Old Kent Road. Famous for being the cheapest property on the Monopoly board game, but also for its association with the Kray brothers, the boxer Henry Cooper and the childhood homes to Tommy Steele and Max Bygraves.
It was also famous for being the home of the Millwall football team who, during my childhood years, gained a negative reputation for fighting among its supporters and others.
So when reporting to an audience of that calibre you had to be sure that your printed word was based on fact not fiction. We had to learn how to listen, identify areas for concern, seek views of others and be trusted by those who were involved in the change areas that would be affected. St. Richard’s Hospice is today a shining example of how best to do this.
My first role was as a volunteer editor. As well as an editor we also had a deputy for organising print runs and a legal guy to approve our printed word. The magazine was run by an innovative management team of volunteers.
Look at St. Richard’s Hospice today and you will experience volunteers at their very best. Alongside them we have the professionals and support staff. I compare these practical skills people to the editors’ office team because although I was an editor I needed a much more in-depth understanding of how to produce a magazine of quality.
As magazine editor I soon discovered I needed to be in-tune with the latest developments and that was best achieved by listening and explaining to the readers in simple terms that they could understand.
Here again St. Richards comes to mind as they have specialist staff who are skilled in the ability to talk with you so that you understand clearly what is happening and you can discuss with staff things that may be troubling you.
In short, using the expertise of St. Richard’s Hospice is similar to how we used the editorial group all those years ago. None of us had all the answers but we found that by pooling our expertise we could support and understand each other. That is why so many people benefit from St. Richard’s because of its unique approach to caring and sharing.
The latest new recruit to the ‘PD Club’ is Billy Connolly. He summed up the importance of being able to use the right words by recalling one of his interviews when he was told about the disease. The doctor said:
‘You have Parkinson’s Disease and you know there is no cure.’ ‘How much better I would have felt’ said Billy, if he had said ‘We have YET to find a cure.’ Thanks to the sterling work of St. Richards Hospice you can be assured finding the right words comes easier.
What does the Bishop of Lichfield, Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox and Billy Connolly share? The answer is that they all suffer from Parkinson Disease.