We are absolutely delighted to announce that our BBC Radio 4 Appeal, which aired on Sunday 12 April, has raised a staggering £104,060.75! This is one of the highest amounts raised from a BBC Radio 4 Appeal on record. We are humbled by the incredible generosity of all who donated in support of our vital research into a cure for Parkinson’s, particularly in these difficult times, and we would like to say a heartfelt thank you.

We would also like to thank our wonderful presenter Paul Mayhew-Archer, who played a huge part in creating the script and delivered it so fantastically in challenging circumstances. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, instead of travelling to the BBC Studios, Paul managed to create an excellent recording from home on his phone. Paul has written a wonderful article to accompany this announcement:

The other day I was telling our grandson about the Radio 4 Appeal. I’m not sure how much he took in because he’s only nine months old but it gave us something to talk about. I told him how it started with a call from the charity “The Cure Parkinson’s Trust".

“The great thing about the Radio 4 appeal,” they said, “is it’s only 170 seconds long. So you don’t have to write much.”

“Great,” I said.

“You just have to tell the listeners about yourself and your Parkinson’s and the various ways in which Parkinson’s affects you and affects others. And then describe how The Cure Parkinson’s Trust is trying to find a cure and describe some of the amazing things it's trying, and say why you’re supporting it and say how you hope others will as well because it's really important.”

“In 170 seconds.”

“Actually the last 30 seconds are taken up with telling people how to donate so it’s more like 140 seconds. O, and could you bung in a couple of jokes? If you give people a smile they might give us a tenner.”

Someone once said to me “ninety percent of writing is deciding what not to write”. Clearly, in the case of the Radio 4 Appeal, that goes up to ninety nine percent.

Actually I was determined to bung in some jokes, not just because I believe every message is stronger with a pinch of humour, but because The Cure Parkinson’s Trust was set up by a wonderful man called Tom Isaacs who endured the most appalling symptoms and yet somehow remained funny to the end. Believe it or not, people with Parkinson’s do love laughing at the condition. I find it every time I do my one-man show “Incurable Optimist” and people with Parkinson’s are in the audience. Also, for me, hearing that laughter is like receiving an extra dose of my medication.

Sadly, Tom died three years ago at the age of 49. Oddly though, I’ve just googled him and one of the first entries has him aged 52 and still alive - which in a strange and uplifting way he is, through his remarkable charity.

As it turned out, the gloriously generous Radio 4 listeners gave his remarkable charity rather more than tenners. I was hoping the appeal might raise about £20,000 - that’s the norm it seems - so my jaw dropped through the floor when the charity told me the actual total - £104,061. I was both deeply moved that so many people wanted to help those of us with Parkinson’s, and utterly amazed because I thought everyone had already given all their money to Captain Tom.

I’m also aware that we were lucky. The appeal went out on Easter Sunday after a message from Her Majesty. It’s not often you get to have the Queen as your warm up act.

So may I take this opportunity to thank all those who gave? Parkinson’s isn’t nice - it’s a condition in the brain that can lead to losing the ability to walk, speak and write, while also causing problems with swallowing, uncontrollable shaking, constipation, slowness, stiffness and the loss of the sense of smell. Mind you, my constipation is such that I regard the loss of my sense of smell as a positive bonus.

We’d love a cure. In fact the entire nation would benefit from a cure because more of us are being diagnosed, we’re being diagnosed sooner and we’re living longer so we’re costing the country a fortune.  

So here’s to The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, here’s to all the Parkinson’s charities and the astonishing scientists and researchers and research patients who are working to find a cure, and here’s to Radio 4 and its listeners, and the nurses and neurologists and therapists and partners and carers and givers who are working to keep us going until that cure is found. And here’s to a day when I can talk to my grandson and he can ask me “What’s Parkinson’s?” and I can say “it’s something I used to have.”

Finally, my wife has asked me to point out that when they told me the appeal had raised £104,061, and “my jaw dropped through the floor”, that was a metaphor, not another symptom. Just in case you were concerned.

Paul Mayhew-Archer

CPT, like so many others, has been significantly affected by COVID-19 and we are overwhelmed by the generosity of supporters in this period of uncertainty. With so many of our events cancelled we still face significant challenges in the coming months, but these funds will make a big difference to ensuring that our ground-breaking research can continue.