A DEVON family impacted by Parkinson’s are taking on a fundraising challenge and urging others to take part.

Millie Hann, along with her family and friends, are hiking part of the South West Coast Path from Torcross to Start Point on Saturday, July 1 to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK.

The team is behind Hike4Happiness, a series of challenges for Parkinson’s UK. Millie, 23, was inspired to fundraise by her mum Philippa who was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s in 2017, aged just 49.

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, and currently there is no cure. It affects around 145,000 people in the UK and every hour, two more people are diagnosed.

There are more than 40 symptoms, ranging from tremor to pain to anxiety, but it can be difficult to diagnose, as Millie explained: “Mum first noticed her little finger twitching, and the doctors said she had health anxiety.

"Symptoms such as shuffling, freezing, loss of balance, severe anxiety, unable to swim and appearing to have a vacant expression slowly became worse. Looking back it was obvious it was Parkinson's.

"But because mum was a woman and only 49, the doctors didn't think it could be possible.” 

Philippa’s diagnosis has had a huge impact on everyone. “When Mum was diagnosed, I had no idea what Parkinson’s was,” Millie said.

“I was 17 and my brother and sister were 12 and 15. I have found it really difficult to get my head round. My Mum was so involved and did everything for us, it's hard to accept that she isn't the same. The roles have been reversed, but this hasn't stopped Mum from caring and being our biggest cheerleader.

“Parkinson’s has really affected Mum’s life. She worked as a teaching assistant at a special needs school and loved her job, but sadly had to retire early due to ill health. Mum has made some amazing friends in the Parkinson's community. It certainly makes you feel less alone if you are going through a similar situation.

“A sense of humour is Mum's way of coping with her symptoms. She is so upbeat and positive, which really helps.”

Millie has organised a trio of fundraisers this year, with a virtual walk of 50 miles in 50 days, followed by a charity football match and now their coastal hike. 

“I can see the positive effect of each donation to Parkinson’s UK and how they help, not just my Mum, but everyone struggling.”

Millie’s family and friends are all ready to take on the July 1 challenge and are encouraging everyone to join them. 

“We’re starting and finishing at the Start Bay Inn in Torcross, heading to the Start Point lighthouse and back. It’s eight miles and anyone can come and join us, with all of the  £10 entry fee going to Parkinson’s UK. Fish and chips are available to buy afterwards at the Start Bay Inn, with all profits going to the charity.”

To sponsor Millie’s Hike4Happiness, and to take part, visit their web page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/millieandjack?fbclid=IwAR1QRqJPv8qisirt0jP-Zmzsn84VBtPzaQlKeyuyiHILsv4Fs_okbMo4Vqg .

To find out how to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK, visit: parkinsons.org.uk/fundraising .