GEORGE Spencer has made a major contribution to local life, particularly to those suffering from Parkinson’s and their families.

Terry Kendall, chair of the Barnsley branch of Parkinson’s UK, and Bronia Warden of Healthy Bones who works with the branch providing exercise sessions have nominated 86-year-old George for a Proud of Barnsley award and submitted this nomination.

For the past 22 years George has worked tirelessly for the Barnsley branch of Parkinson’s UK.

From 1984 there had been an informal group operating in Barnsley, but with George’s arrival it was agreed with Parkinson’s head office that a branch should be formed, and matters put onto a more formal footing and in 2002 the Barnsley and District Branch was formed. Comedian Charlie Williams, who himself had Parkinson’s, agreed to become our first President and following Charlie’s passing, Ian McMillan became our President in 2008 and remains so today.

George is a meticulous administrator. Using his business skills he quickly commenced regular monthly branch meetings. He assembled a group of people to form a committee to assist in running the branch. From this group of enthusiastic volunteers, several of whom served for many years, an active thriving branch developed, the foundations which stand firm to this day, 22 years later.

George’s wife, Grace, suffered from Parkinson’s. Having seen the mobility difficulties experienced by Grace, George recognised the need for people with Parkinson’s to engage in regular exercise. In 2007 he set about raising funds to engage a postural stability instructor (Bronia). That group continues to be well supported to this day and is still delivered by Bronia. Currently, 30 people attend this weekly group.

Such a stable committee has meant the branch has been highly successful in uniting people with Parkinson’s and their carers with regular activities including:

· A respite care programme

· Weekly exercise classes

· Well-attended branch meetings with noteworthy speakers

· Organised walks in the summer

· Carers pamper day

· A quarterly newsletter, and much more

George served ten years as the branch chairman and is currently assistant treasurer and an active committee member. One of his many achievements was to raise sufficient funds to pay for a nurse dedicated to caring for Parkinson’s patients. This led to the health authority setting up this service on a full-time basis. It was used as a model for the engagement of a dedicated Parkinson’s nurse in many parts of the country.

Other fundraising activities have included:

Organising an annual sponsored walk around the Langsett Reservoir

Bag packing in Marks & Spencer’s and Tesco stores

A bucket collection at Barnsley Football club

Parkinson’s awareness stands in the town and in Locke Park.

George who is now 86 years old is soon to retire from the committee after 22 years of dedicated service. George has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the branch. He will continue to be an active member of the group, ready to share his wide experience and knowledge. George has made a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of people with Parkinson’s and their carers throughout the borough.

Additionally, George devotes time helping his friends and neighbours by giving lifts to appointments/ shopping and airports.

George has made a fantastic meaningful contribution to the success of the Barnsley branch and people with Parkinson’s and their families as well as the wider Barnsley community.