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Cumbrian men with life-shortening illnesses hope to inspire others
10:00am Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in News
Three South Lakeland men who suffer from chronic illnesses have joined forces to help others living with the same conditions.
Graham Vincent, who has motor neurone disease, and Terry James and John Ashford, who each have Parkinson’s disease, have all faced a personal battle after being diagnosed with life-shortening illnesses.
But while accepting their their situations and acknowleding that the NHS provides ‘brilliant’ initial treatment, they discovered there was not much in the way for continuing care.
To fill this gap, the men have worked together for nearly 12 months developing a social enterprise called Xeed North West to offer people sufferers a network of help.
"The main thing we want people to realise is the development of their condition can be slowed down," said Mr Ashford, 66, of Windermere.
Exercise, education and employment opportunities are the three main areas the group says can help people fight the effects of their illness.
An exercise class at Kendal's St George's Church is run for people to explore dance movements.This encourages the buld up of muscles and counter act the effects of Parkinson's.
"It is what it is and we have to make the most out of life," said Mr Vincent, 69, of Kendal. "We want to bring people together. People will quite often shut themselves away. Many people suffer from depression after they have been diagnosed. They might not be able to carry on with their employment or live the life they are use to. They could lose their enthusiasm for tomorrow."
Xeed has linked up with Kendal College to offer sufferers an opportunity to go back into education and learn skills to deal with their condition.
"People still want to carry on doing the things they love," said Mr Vincent. "We are trying to help people do that."
There are around 250 people living with Parkinson's in South Lakeland. The illness has been given a higher profile after the actor Bob Hoskins revealed earlier this month that he had the condition.
The group also want to help sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis, strokes, cancer, and heart conditions.
"Support groups can help the patient and family to interact with other individuals who have the same diagnosis to allow these people to share experiences and information," said Mr Ashford.
Anyone wishing to get involved should email firstname.lastname@example.org.