A 75-YEAR-OLD from Pontypool who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and cancer is refusing to let the conditions prevent him from helping others in his situation.

Don Murray was diagnosed with Parkinson’s ten years ago and now acts as an ambassador in the Parkinson’s UK Torfaen support group, based at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Penygarn.

In July he was diagnosed with cancer, but despite undergoing chemotherapy, he is determined to carry on fundraising for the group and raising awareness of the condition.

“A lot of people don’t know about Parkinson’s,” he said. “People think it is just shaking, but its shuffling about, losing mobility and struggling to do everyday tasks - I have difficulty doing up small buttons.

“It also affects your voice. When I’m on the phone, people think I sound half cut. I explain straight away I have Parkinson’s and people are usually very understanding.

“It was 10 years ago this month I went to see the doctor and he picked it up. I walked in and he asked ‘Are you shuffling?’. I said my wife said I had been. He asked me to walk around the room, and told me there and then."

Mr Murray's wife, Dianne, said the news had been hard to accept.

“We went along to our first Parkinson’s meeting with some friends about six months after Don’s diagnosis," she said.

“It was hard to accept in the beginning – that’s why we didn’t go before. But he lives for the group now.

“One time he had his chemotherapy on the Tuesday and on the Wednesday he went to the group.

“It’s important to get it out to people that our group is there, and everyone is welcome. It’s about being able to socialise with people who are going through the same things as yourself.

“They can sit down and talk and they are not rushed or judged.”

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(Don and Dianne Murray promoting Parkinson's UK. Picture: Mike Beckett.)

In July, Mr Murray was diagnosed with cancer, which he was told could not be cured.

“With Don’s illness and treatment, we thought we would cancel the Christmas event this year,” said Mrs Murray. “But Don said he wanted us to do it, and we have been lucky as a lot of people who have offered us support.

“Don said to us if we don’t do it this year, then we might not be able to raise anywhere near as much next year – as people would have forgotten about it.

“Myself and Don were talking and he asked if anything happened to him would I keep going with the group, as it is really helping people. it is his wish for us to make a difference in people’s lives. A lot of people are getting to know more about Parkinson’s now.”

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(Don and Dianne Murray on the Parkinson's UK Torfaen support group canal boat day trip. Picture: Mike Beckett.)

The group offers people with Parkinson’s the chance to socialise with each other, and organises trips, in recent years going to watch Disney on Ice, and having day trips to Swansea and went to St Fagans.

They also have speakers come in to inform members and carers about important information such as wills and power of attorney.

Its group’s Christmas Extravaganza is being held on November 21, and will feature crafts, festive refreshments and a raffle to raise money for the group.

Last year’s Extravaganza raised more than £2,000 for the charity.

Despite undergoing chemotherapy, Mr Murray has been out getting prizes for the raffle.

“He’s been an ambassador for us for a number of years," said Annie Hartland, a volunteer at the Parkinson’s Torfaen Support Group. “He goes out in the community and talks to everyone. Everyone knows Don. That’s how he was able to get 22 of the prizes donated for our Christmas Extravaganza.

“We have been lucky to have such great support from the businesses in Pontypool, both the big stores and the smaller independent businesses. We’ve also had a lot of support from the Community Council.”