Ridgewood man ‘moves disease up league table’

PAUL DOWLING, 56, twin brother of East Sussex County Council chairman Chris Dowling, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008.

Next week (April 16-24) is an important week for sufferers as it has been named Parkinson’s Awareness Week.

Paul hopes to raise the profile of the incurable disease, and help more people become aware of the impact it has on so many lives.

Paul from Highview Lane, Ridgewood, is a creative designer and worked for a while for his brother Chris’s print business before he became ill. Chris said: “He’s a very artistic, creative type and still keeps his hand in.” Paul also runs an overseas property website.

He said: “A few years ago I would not have given it a second thought, but having been told that I have Parkinson’s, I now have a personal interest.

“Not many people know there is no cure, although they say they are working on it; there is no test to confirm that you have it and no reason for it starting in the first place.”

He explained that research is now being conducted into these three issues, and a breakthrough is getting closer, ‘so we hope’.

Paul is married to Gill and has two daughters, Sarah (24 in June) and Lucy (22 on April 4.) He went on: “Meanwhile those of us that have been told we have Parkinson’s Disease are trying to move it up the league table of diseases that need more funding.

“I was told ‘strokes are sexy,’ they get the funding.’ A strange way for a consultant to talk about budgets.”

Paul’s assessment mirrors the frustration many sufferers feel when other diseases appear to hog the news headlines and win the lion’s share of public attention and money.

Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Week gives patients the chance to make sure the NHS knows that although their problems might not be ‘of the moment’ they must not be ignored.

As a result Paul plans to be out during the week shaking tins in Haywards Heath and at the Princess Royal Hospital where he will man an exhibition stand ready to answer questions. Meanwhile his niece, Isobel, 22 (daughter of the twins’ sister, Julia Coomber from Sharpthorne) plans to run in the Brighton Marathon this month to raise yet more money.

Animal lover Isobel works with wildlife at a sanctuary near East Grinstead. Paul laughed: “I wish her all the best – maybe one year I will be joining her on her run.”

Anyone who would like to help the family in their fundraising drive can do so via the webiste: http://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Dowling0