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Party for Parkinson’s – to raise awareness, funds and the roof





Lacking dopamine? Up for raising awareness, funds and the roof?

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. To mark this, we are organising a Party for Parkinson’s at the Belgian Brewer in Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday April 6 from 7.30pm, when there will be lots of opportunities for dopamine creation.

We are organising the event in conjunction with Stortford Music Festival (SMF). Tickets are £10. Money from ticket sales will be divided between Parkinson’s UK, to support its vital research and support lines, and SMF, a community interest company raising money to put on the Bish Bash music festival in 2025. Profits from the raffle and sales of exclusively designed merchandise will go to Parkinson’s UK.

Julie Walker's partner Andy Johnson, AKA The Wise(ish) Man, pictured second left, performing on the Big Bash stage
Julie Walker's partner Andy Johnson, AKA The Wise(ish) Man, pictured second left, performing on the Big Bash stage

With music, poetry and special guests, this will be an opportunity to consume, imbibe, be happy and let your hair down (as this is an inclusive event, those who are folically challenged will be welcomed with open arms). There will also be plenty of chairs for a bit of seated swaying and a licensed bar for some stationary sipping.

The Wise(ish) Man’s cover will be blown when he performs as himself, Andy Johnson, without the cover of his pseudonym. Andy has put together a supergroup, The Hybrids, performing tracks from his album Long Hard Road. I, as Janet Bric-a-Brac, aka The Parkinality Poet, will be performing a selection of odes. Stortford Music Festival are organising another couple of bands: Big Door Prize and Ancient Geeks.

For those new to the column and who spotted the word ‘party’ in the headline. Firstly, welcome. Secondly, for those who thought that as it is titled Parkinality it would be about parking and contain news on the fate of the Causeway car park, this column is actually about living with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Annabel Cowley of Big Door Prize at Bish Bash on Friday June 3, 2022. Picture: Rick Stevens
Annabel Cowley of Big Door Prize at Bish Bash on Friday June 3, 2022. Picture: Rick Stevens

So to clarify, what is dopamine? People without PD have enough dopamine for life. If you live with PD your supply is depleting, causing up to 40 symptoms. Many of those symptoms manifest themselves physically, with mobility and dexterity issues. But there is nothing wrong with my limbs. It is a lack of dopamine in the brain which is responsible for transmitting messages to the body to move. Put simply: no dopamine = no movement.

For fear of repeating myself (I am), here is a brief description, from an earlier Parkinality column, explaining the importance of dopamine, using water as an analogy. You probably don’t realise how vital it is until your supply begins to disappear.

Imagine a world where each person is born with their own personal water supply. They have no interest or reason for finding out where the water comes from, therefore they take it for granted that they have a continuous supply for life. Imagine that, at 44, your supply suddenly switches off. When it is reinstated you are unable to store it. Your friends and family still have a constant supply but they can’t share it or help you. Your supply keeps switching on and off erratically. As water is essential for life and wellbeing, the quest to find other sources is all-consuming.

Substitute the word ‘dopamine’ for ‘water’. Fortunately, in the developed world, the modern-day elixir of life, water, is plentiful. Dopamine, however, is not available in sports bottles in convenience stores.

The Belgian Brewer founder and head brewer Nik Lemmens
The Belgian Brewer founder and head brewer Nik Lemmens

The majority of people, both with and without PD, can temporarily increase dopamine production by doing something they enjoy. Whether that be fishing and eating a kebab, or laughing and dancing. As I don’t enjoy fishing or kebabs, then I intend to attempt to create some dopamine at the party.

If you don’t live with PD, temporarily increasing your dopamine supply might make you dance more exuberantly. If you do live with PD and a diminishing supply of dopamine, then a temporary increase might help you walk across the room.

Tickets for Party for Parkinson’s are limited, so get yours today online at thebelgianbrewer.co.uk.

Julie Walker and her partner Andy Johnson, AKA The Wise(ish) Man
Julie Walker and her partner Andy Johnson, AKA The Wise(ish) Man

Just to be clear, I hope that this is not an annual event. I hope that next year there will be no need for any awareness, fund or roof raising. I hope that next year I will be curled up in front of Gogglebox, darning socks, sipping tequila.

Party for Parkinson’s on Saturday April 6 starts at 8pm; doors open at 7.30pm. The event is suitable for young people aged 14-plus (under-18s must be accompanied by an adult). The Belgian Brewer is at Unit 11, The Links Business Centre, Raynham Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts CM23 5NZ.



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