Sidmouth man to walk from France to Spain for Parkinson’s UK

John Sharples will be taking on a 500 mile challenge from France to Spain in aid of Parkinson's UK.

John Sharples will be taking on a 500 mile challenge from France to Spain in aid of Parkinson's UK. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth man has been inspired to walk 500 miles for Parkinson’s UK after a close friend was diagnosed with the condition.

John Sharples, a retired probation officer, is taking on the Camino Francais challenge to help fund research into the neurological condition which affects 127,000 people in the UK.

He chose the charity as his friend Maureen Brett was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011. The pair met as children and also attended the same high school in Middleton, Greater Manchester.

John hopes to complete the route - from the French side of the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostella - in five weeks and raise more than £1,000 in the process.

The 65-year-old said: “I knew that I wanted to raise some money for a charity and I did not have to look far for inspiration. Maureen, and her fantastic family, live life to the full and encourage others to do the same, despite being confronted with many issues on a daily basis as a consequence of Parkinson’s.


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“I would like to raise some money to assist in further research. I am really looking forward to the Camino. In comparison to what people with Parkinson’s face up to, it should be a walk in the park.”

The keen hockey player was inspired by the film The Way, starring Michael Sheen, whose character Twalks the ancient route in memory of his son.

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Though a solo trek, John will be walking alongside 250,000 people on the famous pilgrimage route when he sets off next Sunday, April 23.

Maureen, 65, said: “I like to think I cope fairly well with Parkinson’s, but this would be practically impossible without the love and support of my family and friends. This is why I’m particularly grateful and proud that John is undertaking this challenge in aid of Parkinson’s UK.

“He’s a star and a big thanks to his wife Chris for ‘allowing’ him to do this. I have known them both for such a long time and I am honoured to call them friends.”

Paul Jackson-Clark, director of fundraising at Parkinson’s UK, added his thanks to John for taking on the ‘incredible’ challenge.

He added: “We are leading the way to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for Maureen and the 127,000 affected by Parkinson’s across the UK, but our work wouldn’t be possible without the determination of fundraisers like John.”

To donate, visit John’s Just Giving page at just giving.com/john.sharples3

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