A brave woman who has battled a debilitating disease for more than a decade took on a high-octane fund-raising challenge in aid of a charity which supports sufferers of the condition.
Despite having Parkinson’s and being scared of heights, Rose Batha, from Wooler, tackled a daunting zipwire from the Tyne Bridge on Saturday.
The stunt saw the 65-year-old zipwire from the Newcastle side of the River Tyne and travel 230 metres across to the Gateshead side.
She completed the feat with her husband Alan, 66, and the pair have collected around £200 for Parkinson’s UK, which is a support and research charity.
Reflecting on his wife’s efforts, Alan said: “It was a massive achievement for her and I am so proud of her. After she had done it, she said that she wanted to do it again.
“Perched on the bridge, looking down, it was a challenge, but it was no more challenging than the one faced by people with Parkinson’s. What Rose did showed that even if you have Parkinson’s, you can still do this sort of thing.” There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s, which is a disease in which part of the brain becomes progressively damaged over many years and symptoms include tremors, slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles.
Alan said fund-raising was crucial to help experts try to find a way to battle back against the condition.
He told the Gazette: “Rose and I still have six weeks to ask for more donations following our zipwire efforts. The only way that preventative measures and finely a cure can be found for these type of conditions is by research, which you have to throw lots of money at.”
Rose was diagnosed with the disease 13 years ago. It came after the couple had lost their 23-year-old son, who was killed in a road-traffic accident in 1996. The couple, who have been marred for 43 years, also have a 39-year-old daughter.
Alan said: “Rose’s diagnosis was devastating. She was feeling lightheaded and it was thought she had a trapped nerve in her neck, but a MRI scan showed that it was Parkinson’s.
“When you hear someone say that you have got Parkinson’s, you think ‘this is it’ and we thought our life was over, but we are still able to do things. The way we look at it is that it is not what she can’t do, but it is what she can do.”
One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s, which equates to about 127,000 people in the UK. Symptoms and how quickly they progress are different for everyone and drugs and treatments are available to manage many of the symptoms.
Alan admitted that life can be tough for Rose, who is on a cocktail of medication, but it is not all doom and gloom.
He said: “She went quite a long time when it wasn’t affecting her too badly, but eventually she started getting the tremors and dragging her leg and she started taking medication. It is not easy for Rose and sometimes, when she first wakes up, it can take her 15 minutes to get from the bedroom to the bathroom.
“We both agree that for Rose to get her body to move first thing in the morning, when all medication is out of her system, and the new day’s medicines have yet to kick-in, is a greater battle, but once the medicines do kick in then she and fellow suffers can lead fairly normal lives.
“But to further help yourself, we feel you need to watch your lifestyle choices.”
The pair attend the Parkinson’s support group in Alnwick, which takes place at the town’s rugby club on the first Tuesday of each month from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
The sessions are for suffers and their careers and feature invited speakers. A bus trip to Beamish Museum takes place on Tuesday, July 7, and there is still room for people to join.
Alan, who is also full of praise for the Parkinson’s nurses, encouraged people to attend the sessions. He added: “I believe if you join a support group, it will help you in various good ways.
Ron Bernstein, from the Alnwick group, praised Rose’s zipwire effort. He said: “She is absolutely inspirational and it has moved me to do it next time.” For more information about the group, call Ron on 01665 602980.