My name is Simon Forrest, I am 54 years old and have been diagnosed with PD for 16 months and have been symptomatic for 27 months. I also have lymphoma, which was diagnosed in 2004 and for which I have had no treatment so far.
I have a strong Christian faith, which has stood me in good stead for the ongoing battles with my health and for which I am totally blessed.
Stealing a line from my good friend Andy Hobbs, Parkinsons is not a sentence, it is just a word. There is the inclination to be more reclusive because we might find some of the symptoms embarrassing, which is totally understandable, but I believe we, as humans, are meant to enjoy each other’s company and fellowship.
Three months’ ago, I went with my friend Jim Leslie to an open day at Birmingham Football Centre in Solihull and tried a few activities. I had been a decent footballer in my younger years and particularly enjoyed the walking football. I went away and agreed with my Managing Director that I would take time off twice a week to play walking football and make up the time as necessary.
This, quite simply, has been life changing for me. I have a whole new group of friends and my wellbeing has improved hugely. The camaraderie, kindness and support I witness each week is worth more than all the pills I take!
We recently put a team together and entered a tournament at Worcester City. We managed to remain unbeaten throughout the tournament (4 games) and didn’t concede a goal. We won it! But winning isn’t everything, the abiding memory I have is of John Sheridan sitting with his granddaughter on one knee and the trophy on the other and a huge smile on his face. Precious moments.
Following that, our walking football club was the venue for the Parkinsons England trials on 3 July. We put forward 5 players, with two being successful and now moving forward to represent both their country and each of us with Parkinsons.
Yes, this is a horrible condition BUT there are positives to be taken from this. I would encourage everyone to be as active as they can be, it really does not matter how good or bad you are at each activity. Whether it be singing, dancing, walking football, walking netball or table tennis, take advantage of all the hard work put in by Martin and Jan and all the others behind the scenes and kick Parkinsons into touch while you enjoy some fun with other likeminded people, new friends.