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Walking for Parkinson’s cure

452. Norman Yarrow

An East Lothian man with Parkinson’s disease who has raised nearly £325,000 for Parkinson’s charities with a 215 mile charity walk.

Scotland rugby legend Gavin Hastings who supported his fundraising presented Norman Yarrow with the award. Norman is an avid fundraiser for Parkinson’s UK and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s the day after his 25th wedding anniversary in September 2013, and whilst still recovering from a lung cancer operation earlier that year. This diagnosis motivated Norman to fundraise for Parkinson’s in the hope of finding a cure in his lifetime.

 One of Norman’s most notable achievements was the organisation of ‘Norman’s Conquest’ – a hugely successful 215 mile walk along the Southern Upland Way which raised nearly £325,000 for two Parkinson’s charities. Norman and his team of eight fundraisers encountered sun, snow, rain and hail over steep and rugged terrain to complete the mammoth walk from Portpatrick, in Dumfries and Galloway, to Cockburnspath in 14 days. Norman’s Parkinson’s reduces his agility on the right-hand side of his body but during the walk his movement gradually improved.

Norman was supported by 240 people throughout the challenge. These supporters included Scottish rugby legend Gavin Hastings, the Head of Parkinson’s UK, Katherine Crawford, and Iain Gray, the local MSP, who joined the celebrations at the end of walk. Norman’s conquest had three aims – to raise money, raise awareness and make friends. The walk achieved all of these ambitions and Norman beat his original fundraising target by more than double after receiving donations from across the world.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Norman has shown incredible strength and determination in his response to his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. By undertaking ‘Norman’s Conquest’ he has not only raised a fantastic amount of money to try to find a cure for this debilitating condition, he has also inspired a huge number of people to join his cause and raised awareness about the disease. I am delighted to recognise Norman as the UK’s 452nd Point of Light.”

Norman Yarrow said:

“I am most honoured to accept this award, and would like to thank in particular my wife Carol who did a fantastic job with all the logistics during the walk with tireless enthusiasm. I would also like to thank the eight others who completed the full walk, for giving up two weeks of their lifes and giving me endless encouragement and everyone who participated by taking part or giving donations. I would like to thank the two Parkinson’s charities for all their support and wish them well with their efforts to find medication that will slow down, arrest or even reverse the impact of Parkinson’s Disease for myself and all fellow sufferers. There are about 130,000 people with Parkinson’s Disease in the UK alone, so there many of us in the same boat hoping for some medical break-through in the not too distant future.”

Andrew Dunlop, Minister for Scotland, said:

“Norman’s fundraising for Parkinson’s UK and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust sets an inspiring example for others to follow. Walking the entire 212 mile length of the Southern Upland Way is an amazing feat by anyone’s standards and testifies to the incredible strength of his character.”

Iain Gray, MSP, said:

“I helped launch “Norman’s Conquest”, and welcomed him home at the end of it – but Norman walked every step of the 215 miles in all weathers, then relentlessly harassed everyone he could find to smash his fundraising target. His inspirational response to his diagnosis is indeed a point of light. Norman has beaten cancer and now he is determined to see a cure for Parkinson’s developed too. He is a force of nature, and a force for good.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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