High Sheriff of Clwyd organises ball for Parkinson’s charity which helps families like her own living with the disease

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THE High Sheriff of Clwyd will host a charity ball to raise money for those living with Parkinson’s disease which her husband was diagnosed with 10 years ago.

Stephanie Catherall, who was appointed as the new High Sheriff of Clwyd at a special ceremony in St Deiniol’s Church, Hawarden, last month, has organised the black tie event on Friday May 17 at Carden Park country hotel, close to Chester.

Tickets are £70 a head and the money raised will give a cash boost to one of Stephanie’s chosen charities for her year in office – Parkinson’s UK – which aims to help find a cure and improve the life of everyone affected by the condition.

Guests will be treated to a champagne and canapé reception, a three-course meal and live entertainment from Sing Out Gospel Choir.

Later in the evening, there will be a glittering array of prizes to snap up in the auction including a private tour of one of the world’s best classic Jaguar car collection, a tutored wine tasting for 10 people, a dinner, show and backstage tour for one of three productions at Theatr Clwyd and a meal cooked in your own home for 10 people by top Welsh chef Graham Tinsley.

Stephanie of Nercwys, near Mold, said: “We have had tremendous support for the event with 13 of the tables already sold but we still have several left and people can buy the tickets individually or in tables of 10.

“Parkinson’s UK is one of my chosen charities for my year in office as High Sheriff because they do terrific work supporting those with the condition and their families. David and I know how important that support is.

“The way David has coped with his condition has been marvellous. He’s not one to sit around moping and no matter how he is feeling, he is always so supportive of me and what I am doing.

“We have also had tremendous help from loved ones around us and you really do realise who your friends are. Many of them will be there at the ball with us, helping us to raise money.”

An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease including Back to the Future film star Michael J Fox and Scottish comedian, actor, musician and presenter Billy Connolly.

It is the second more common degenerative neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s disease and is caused when some of the nerve cells in the brain which produce the chemical dopamine die.

Dopamine allows messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement. With the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells, these parts of the brain are unable to work normally, causing symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear.

David first noticed something was wrong when the couple, who have been married for almost 50 years, were driving across France on holiday.

The 69-year-old engineer, inventor and managing director of TDC Services based in Ewloe, said: “We had a touch screen sat nav in the car and I went to touch it and couldn’t. I had the shakes, I could feel my bottom lip going and I just couldn’t get my hand to connect with the sat nav screen.

“I suspected straight away that it might be Parkinson’s. We got home and I went to the doctors. He got me to walk in a straight line which I wasn’t too good at and to write a few sentences and by the time I had done my name, I could barely recognise what I had written myself.”

One of the early signs of Parkinson’s, which is a progressive neurological condition, is that people’s handwriting will become smaller.

The main symptoms include tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement but those with the condition can also experience problems with sleep and memory and mental health issues.

David, who now takes 15 tablets a day to replace the dopamine and help him manage the condition, said the condition has affected him emotionally.

He said: “Before I was officially diagnosed, I just felt in a general malaise. I had no interest in work which wasn’t usual. My career has taken me all over the world and I would have thought nothing of just hopping on a plane and getting on with what I needed to do, but suddenly I just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do it.

“I think this was the start of it and I just didn’t realise at the time.

“I do find myself getting more easily upset now too. I have great sorrow and guilt at times that my condition is impacting on my family and stopping me from being able to provide for them as I have always done as the main breadwinner.

“But my advice to anyone diagnosed with the disease is that you go out and do things, just as you always would. You can’t afford to sit in a corner, in the dark, feeling sorry for yourself because when you look around, you will see that there will be others far worse off than you are.”

Stephanie, 71, added: “David is such a practical person, he’s an engineer and everything he does is hands on. He’s a problem solver and nothing ever defeats him. He has endless patience and if something doesn’t work right first time round, he will keep sticking at it until it does.

“I think this helps him to deal with his Parkinson’s. He won’t let it take over his life and he definitely hasn’t lost his sense of humour which has helped both of us get through many a difficult time in our life together.”

The couple will be there together to greet their guests at Stephanie’s upcoming ball where there will also be a raffle which will raise money for Crimebeat, which is the official youth crime prevention charity of the High Sheriffs’ Association of England and Wales.

For more information and to book your tickets for the event, email highsheriffclwyd1920@gmail.com

Pic captions

Stephanie and David Catherall are pictured with their dog Marla.