A daredevil who has Parkinson’s has raised £2,150 for charity by undertaking a skydive.
Brave Gareth Blake, from Cardigan, jumped from a plane and plummeted towards the ground from 15,000ft, in aid of Parkinson’s UK Cymru and his local support group.
The 53-year-old, who is originally from Holyhead, on Anglesey, and is a member of Parkinson’s UK Cymru’s Emlyn and Tivyside Parkinson’s group, described the experience as “awesome” and says he can’t wait to do it again.
The former logistics manager did the tandem jump with GoSkydive in Salisbury.
Ana Palazon, Country Director of Parkinson’s UK Cymru, has described Gareth’s efforts to raise money for the charity and awareness of the condition as “incredible”.
There are over 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s. But the 3 main symptoms of Parkinson’s, which is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, are a tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness).
Almost 8,000 people are currently living with Parkinson’s in Wales. Wales is the nation with the highest proportion of people who have Parkinson’s in the UK.
Gareth said: “It’s the first skydive I’ve ever done and I did it from 1,500ft. It was awesome. The first few seconds when I jumped out of the plane was the best part for me, just dropping like a stone and all you can hear is the wind.
“My stomach was ok because I was more excited than nervous. I wasn’t nervous at all when the plane took off. It’s only the second time I’ve been up in a plane, and I jumped out.
“I’m definitely going to be doing it again as soon as I can – as soon as I can afford it.”
Gareth explained how having Parkinson’s has impacted his life: “Parkinson’s does slow me down more than I would like. The most visible symptom I have is the tremor. I also freeze when I go through doorways. Parkinson’s has had a big impact on my life.
“Before I moved to Cardigan I was working in London as a logistics manager for an air conditioning company.
“Unfortunately not long after I moved I found out I had Parkinson’s and that put a stop to my work life because of all the medication I was on. It made it impossible to operate machinery. It has been quite difficult because some days I’d be there thinking ‘I wish I could go out and work’.
“When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s around 12 years ago, aged 41, I was told about a local support group. That group was the Emlyn & Tivyside Parkinson’s Support Group. Over the last 12 years they have been nothing but helpful and supportive with any issues that I may have due to the illness.
“Now I think it’s time for me to pay back for all they have done for me. By doing a skydive from 15,000ft I hope this goes part of the way to pay back to the group.”
Ana Palazon, Country Director of Parkinson’s UK Cymru: “Gareth’s efforts to raise awareness of Parkinson’s are truly incredible. To jump out of a plane at 1,500ft is amazing, not to mention incredibly brave.
“On behalf of the Parkinson’s community here in Wales, I would like to thank him for his ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the condition.
“Gareth is living proof that the Parkinson’s community is filled with bold and bright individuals who are doing incredible things each and every day.
“It is vitally important that people with the condition feel seen and supported by their local communities, and beyond.”