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Parkinson's trustee chairman completes epic 24-hour challenge for charity

Gary Shaughnessy leads the way in national fundraising challenge

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

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Parkinson's trustee chairman completes epic 24-hour challenge for charity

BEING tied to another person for 24 hours and running more than 123.1km isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but that’s exactly what Gary Shaughnessy did in a mammoth fundraising effort for Parkinson’s UK.

Mr Shaughnessy, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2015, and his friend Andy Tucker tied themselves together – with Basil the mannequin between them – and completed 300 laps of the Silchester village green on Saturday and Sunday, breaking the three-legged 24-hour record of 116.4km and raising more than £27,000 for charity.

The pair started at 5pm on Saturday, running through the night, and finishing at 5pm the following day.

Mr Shaughnessy, who is chairman of the board of trustees for Parkinson’s UK, said: “The whole atmosphere was superb.

“Through the night people had sent us photos of themselves doing a three-legged challenge, kids and grandparents, and it was a great thing to be involved in.

“The final lap of 300 was an incredible one.

“We were joined by three people with Parkinson’s – Lesley, Vicki and Darren – and they are three of the bravest and most resilient people I’ve met.

“Running with them after 24 hours and holding a replica Olympic torch while completing the route was a privilege.

“Andy was an absolute star, he’s been superb support the whole way through.

“On some of the pictures you get some sense of how tough it was for him.

“And the people at Silchester who let us use the pavilion and marked the pitch for us were absolutely brilliant.”

As well as their epic 24-hour three-legged challenge, Mr Shaughnessy also arranged an attempt to create the world’s largest remote three-legged challenge to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s.

More than 450 people across 15 countries took part in the challenge – short of the 768 target – but still raising more money for Parkinson’s.

Members of Newbury and District Parkinson’s joined together to take part in the attempt at Falkland Cricket Club on Saturday.

Newbury and District Parkinson’s chairman Bruce Blaine, his wife Margaret, Eugene and Sue Futcher and Tina Rowell and Kelvin Crook, tied themselves together for the challenge.

Mr Blaine said: “The target was a minimum of 200 metres, which doesn’t seem very long, but for anyone who has Parkinson’s that can be quite a challenge.”

Mrs Blaine has Parkinson’s and Mr Blaine said it had taken them about 15 minutes to walk 400 metres three-legged.

He said: “My wife was doing it as fast as she could and the other two did it in half the time.

“It was quite easy for them – it was a bit of a challenge for my wife to do that, but she does her exercises at the West Berkshire Therapy Centre to keep her mobile.”

Mr Blaine said that being able to socialise was a good way to manage the condition, but this had been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as have fundraising events.

He said: “This lockdown is proving really difficult to actually help people in that way so any local support that people can give is much appreciated for those who are living with it.

“We couldn’t create a big crowd, but it’s raising awareness of Parkinson’s, which is one of those conditions which people live with and at times struggle with.”

Mr Blaine said the branch “hugely appreciated” the support from the cricket club and the Bowler’s Arms.

“It was just great to be able to do something when it’s difficult to publicise something,” he said.

“The fun thing about three-legged walking is it raises a smile. It’s awkward and difficult, but it raises a smile.”

Mr Blaine said that Mr Shaughnessy had been “doing some amazing stuff” since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Donations for Mr Shaughnessy’s 24-hour challenge can be made at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Parkinsons3leggedChallenge 

Donations for Newbury and District Parkinson’s effort can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/threeleggedchallenge 

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