Struggling to sign my name was first clue I had Parkinson's
BARRIE Newman knew something was not quite right when he started struggling to pen his signature. It was only a matter of time before he was given a formal diagnosis of Parkinson's.
Now seven years on, the progression of the crippling neurological condition means the 65-year-old cannot sign his name at all, turn a screwdriver or do up shirt buttons.
His wife, Helen, and son, Andrew, are preparing to jump out of an aeroplane to raise money for Parkinson's UK.
They will be undertaking the challenge ahead of the start of Parkinson's Awareness Week to raise money for the charity which supports people with the condition while also funding research.
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Mr Newman, of Chipping Sodbury, has not let the Parkinson's stop him from becoming a magistrate but he has had to learn to pace himself.
"The first I knew that something was wrong when I was signing my signature and I had to force it," he said. "Now after seven years I cannot sign it at all.
"I am right-handed and it also affected my right hand side, so using a mouse for the computer needs to be done on my left-hand-side. That's part of the problem. But with Parkinson's, everyone is different.
"I can't turn a screwdriver and it is other small dexterous things – I can lift a table but not turn a screwdriver. It is frustrating above all else.
"There is nothing wrong with my brain at all and I am aware of everything I'm saying and thinking. You can apply yourself but I couldn't do a job as a carpenter."
Mr Newman retired from his sales and marketing job with Mars 15 years ago and became a magistrate five years ago.
"The progression of Parkinson's is very slow but if I think back five years ago I am quite different. As the day progresses I get more tired and my speech becomes more laboured. And I also have to have the buttons on the cuffs on my shirt done up because while I can dress myself, buttons are a problem."
Despite never being a heavy drinker Mr Newman compared the way the incurable condition can make him feel as "like a hangover".
Mrs Newman, 63, a former PE teacher plays netball and felt having first-hand knowledge of Parkinson's was a good reason for her and her son to embark on the challenge.
"It is a degenerative disease that not many people seem to know about," she said.
Their 39-year-old son lives in London and works in TV.
Mr Newman said: "They are very brave to do it and between them they have raised more than £2,000."