Baldock rugby star opens up to raise awareness for Parkinson’s

PUBLISHED: 11:55 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:55 09 May 2018

Justine Lucas (far right) and her family helped her gran who had Parkinson's. Picture: Courtesy of Justine Lucas

Justine Lucas (far right) and her family helped her gran who had Parkinson's. Picture: Courtesy of Justine Lucas

Archant

An England rugby star from Baldock is calling for Parkinson’s support after her late gran battled with the illness.

Justine Lucas, who plays for England in rugby union and Wasps ladies, has opened up about her late grandmother’s struggles with the disease in a bid to raise awareness and encourage support for Parkinson’s UK.

She said: “I was really close to my gran. Her name was Maggie, and she used to look after me and my younger brother a lot. She was a big part of our lives growing up.

“She first became poorly in her early sixties, we noticed that her hand was shaking really badly, and my parents pressured her to go to the GP, but I think she was in denial about it all and refused to go.”

Eventually Justine’s gran visited her GP and after a referral to hospital for further investigations she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Justine added: “She moved closer to Baldock after she was diagnosed so that she could be closer to our family and we supported her a lot.

“She went to a Parkinson’s UK support group locally, and I remember her sitting outside Tesco with a bucket collecting money for them.

“She thoroughly enjoyed a number of holidays organised through the group which brought a smile back to her face.”

Sadly, as Maggie’s condition progressed she could no longer look after herself and had to go into a care home nearby to Justine’s family home. “It was really hard watching her become more poorly as her Parkinson’s progressed,” Justine continued.

“When I went to visit I never knew what I would find – she could be happy and normal, or experiencing hallucinations and seeing things on the floor.

“Given my background, I’m really keen to raise awareness of how exercise can help people with the condition manage their symptoms.

Maggie passed away in 2014 and Justine is now keen to speak out about her family’s experiences and encourage people to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK, as well as raising awareness of the benefits of exercise on helping to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms.

Justine is also backing the charity’s summer fundraiser ‘garden gathering’ which asks people to host events in their gardens or favourite outdoor spaces for friends and family to raise money. To find our more visit parkinsons.org.uk.

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