The actress Dame Judi Dench has thrown herself into finding sponsors for a marathon runner who has been inspired to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK.
Paul Dowling, who lives in Ridgewood, Uckfield, suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and was delighted when his neice Isobel Coomber offered to run in the Brighton Marathon to help the charity.
Isobel, who lives at East Grinstead, works at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey, where Dame Judi is a regular visitor, and asked the star if she would sponsor her.
The actress immediately signed up for £500 and then took three sponsorship forms away with her saying she would ask all the stars and the production team on the set of the latest James Bond film to sign up too.
Paul Dowling said that was a wonderful boost for the fund-raising campaign which is also being supported by his twin brother Chris who runs Chris Dowling Print and Design in Uckfield and is chairman of East Sussex County Council. Isobel is daughter of Paul and Chris’s sister, Julia.
Paul, who is married to Gill and has two grown-up daughters Sarah and Lucy, said: “Isobel, Chris and I are trying to find sponsors and I have set up a Just Giving site so that people are able to donate online.”
He added that within 48 hours the fund-raising had passed £2,500 and he had since heard that Dame Judi had filled two of her sponsor sheets.
Parkinson’s Awareness Week, with the theme Help Us Find a Cure, is next week from April 16 to 24. The Brighton Marathon takes place on Sunday.
Paul said there is no test to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease and no cure. He learned three years ago that he had the disease only after other illnesses were ruled out.
He was dragging his left leg and had occasional problems with his speech and these are symptoms which could both have been caused by, for example, a stroke.
Drugs now help with controlling the symptoms and Paul who goes regularly to the gym finds exercise helps too.
Parkinson’s UK says their researchers are convinced a breakthrough is closer than ever and Paul says it is good to think that the money raised by Isobel’s efforts will help find out why Parkinson’s starts, how it can be diagnosed and how it can be cured.
Paul added: “I am very grateful to Isobel for running the marathon in support of the cause and to everybody who is contributing to the fund-raising. Thanks to all of you.”
If you would like to donate to the cause please visit Paul’s Just Giving site.