Tilney South East’s Fundraising Challenge in support of CPT Employees of Tilney South East recently came together to take on a virtual challenge – the iconic John O’Groats to Land’s End via 21 Tilney offices (and back again!), raising an incredible £3,527 for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) and The Heart of Kent Hospice. The team conquered the equivalent 3,360 mile distance by running, walking and cycling around their own local areas from the end of August to the beginning of November. CPT was delighted to have been selected as one of Tilney’s chosen charities, influenced by Gary Blackledge, a Chartered Financial Planner within the business. Gary (pictured above) was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011 and has said: “When my neurologist asked if I had ever heard of Parkinson's disease before, I knew this was his first venture into the type of discussion that can be life changing. I was 41 years of age and it was 3 November 2011 at approximately 2:30pm. Quite coincidently, I am writing this at 3:35pm, exactly the same day, nine years later. Those early times were the most difficult in many ways. My fear of living out my 40s was unfortunately full of the type of visions that nobody should really be faced with at any age. In terms of education about the condition, my ‘shutters’ came down and I often described it as like being on the edge of a cliff but not wanting to look down for fear of seeing how far down it was. I suppose it was myself self defence mechanism kicking in. But it began to settle in and along the way I picked up words of encouragement, firstly from a registrar who said before I went to see a second opinion neurologist at Kings, “this is the one to have Gary”. With other words ringing in my years like “use it or lose it Gary”, I adopted an exercise regime that has in some ways, seen me in better shape than ever. I have watched the gym membership boom in January, fade by March. But I never had that choice. I have forced myself to go and exercise when all I wanted to do is sit in front of the TV, especially after a stressful day at work (I’m still full time). I have walked the family puppy one mile further than what I normally would do. I have played veterans football in 2019 and hear people say “I would never have known”. And each time, I come away mentally happier and more accepting of my condition because I know that exercise is key. A few years ago I asked my Parkinson’s nurse on a scale of 1 to 10 how my condition was against the duration of having the condition. “No tremors I see Gary, I will give you 9/10.” So life changing it may be, but through exercise, I take comfort from knowing that I'm fighting back.” Taking part in this huge challenge in support of CPT also resonated with Simon O’Connell, a director and chartered financial planner, at Tilney (pictured above with colleague Diane). Simon said: “I came to understand the huge impact that Parkinson’s has when I met Phil and his family. Phil was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 45. A diagnosis at any age is a shock, but when diagnosed with a young family and to provide for, the stress is significant. For a number of years, he continued to commute into London but as the disease progressed, he found that the stress of travelling and working full time, significantly impacted his health. Phil was introduced to us via a mutual friend and through our ongoing professional advice he has been able to create financial security by restructuring his financial position and importantly standing firm with his pension provider, which meant that Phil was finally able to take early retirement whilst knowing his family is supported. Phil has gone on to create a group which provides support, advice and inspiration for people with Parkinson’s of working age Knowing Tilney’s support has enabled Phil to concentrate on the things that matter to him – his family, and Parkinson’s Medway is a significant motivator to for this challenge.” The Medway Neurological Network is a fantastic initiative that arose from the Medway Working Age Group collaborating with the Medway MS Group to form an umbrella community support group for all neurological charities and support groups in Medway, Kent. As such they have been great supporters of and collaborators with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. CPT’s Deputy CEO Helen Matthews said: “Parkinson’s has such a huge impact not just on the individual’s health but on their families too – and so much of that impact is not immediately visible. It is so encouraging that a corporate supporter has really understood the bearing that Parkinson’s brings to every aspect of life and has responded by wanting to raise funds for a cure.” If you would like to support Tilney’s fundraising efforts please visit their fundraising page or if you feel inspired and would like to find out how your company can help to support our work please contact Julia or call 020 74873892.