By Jenny Harland, Branch Secretary
Twenty five years ago today, on 26th November 1991, following 18 months discussion by a steering group, 60 people met in the junior library of Dr Challoner’s Grammar school, for the Inaugural meeting of the Chiltern Hundreds branch of the Parkinson’s Disease Society.
The meeting was chaired by the chairman of Chiltern District Council and included representatives from the Watford and Slough branches, medical staff and the Acting Chief Executive of Parkinson’s Disease Society.
Initially the only branch activity was the monthly meeting at the Stokesbury Centre in Old Amersham, but 2 years later in 1993 Maria Heine was appointed to commence weekly Conductive Education classes, on Friday mornings … which she is still doing 23 years later!
Other things have changed, however … for instance, our name. We became the Amersham Branch in 1997 and the Amersham and High Wycombe branch in 2001. And of course, the Parkinson’s Disease Society changed its name to become Parkinson’s UK in 2010.
Following the Stokesbury Centre, monthly meetings were held for a short period at St Aidan’s Church Hall in Little Chalfont before we moved to Cedar Barn in Hazlemere for 15 years, from where we reluctantly moved, in July this year to provide more room to socialise and more car parking space. We now meet at the Amersham Free Church on the 2nd Wednesday of most months.
Over the years we have introduced new activities, so in addition to Conductive Education, we now offer 2 walking groups, singing, dance, hydrotherapy and the new PD Power physiotherapy for the newly diagnosed.
Liz Scott and Anita Browne
The branch was instrumental in the appointments of our Parkinson’s Specialist Nurse, Liz Scott, and our local adviser, Anita Browne.
Volunteers and donations
One thing that hasn’t changed is that our branch is run entirely by volunteers … we have no paid staff … so we have little in the way of overheads and most of our income is used to support local people.
And our branch is totally dependant on local donations and fundraising because we get no money from Parkinson’s UK national office.
Over the years our Branch has not only supported individual people with Parkinson’s but also, where possible, their families and carers.