Tea parties to cure disease
Tan Parsons A GROUP committed to fighting a crippling disease is calling on Ham&High readers to take up arms against the illness by holding tea parties. Progressive supranuclear palsy, or PSP, is a debilitating disease that affects at least 10,000 people
A GROUP committed to fighting a crippling disease is calling on Ham&High readers to take up arms against the illness by holding tea parties.
Progressive supranuclear palsy, or PSP, is a debilitating disease that affects at least 10,000 people in the UK but remains little known.
It made headlines in 2002 when comedian Dudley Moore died from the disease.
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Jane Hardy is head of the PSP Association, a charity campaigning to raise awareness and money to find a treatment for the illness.
"The disease begins with lethargy and it often affects the sufferer's handwriting, but doctors invariably think it's depression and prescribe antidepressants," Ms Hardy said. "In 30 per cent of cases they think it is Parkinson's Disease.
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"Then the falls start. A unique feature of the disease is that sufferers tend to fall backwards so many of the injuries involve cracked skulls and fractured eye sockets. And then motor functions start to pack up.
"People then slowly lose the ability to talk, walk and swallow, so their saliva goes into their lungs."
This week, until Saturday, is PSP Awareness Week and Ms Hardy, who was born in Camden at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, is encouraging people to hold afternoon tea parties to raise funds.
"We desperately need more money to find a treatment," she said. "We really want the Ham&High's readers to take part and tell their friends about the illness. But we also want them to have fun, which is where the tea parties come in."
Over time the disease can rob a person of the ability to walk, talk, feed themselves or communicate effectively, yet they usually remain mentally alert. It can affect people as young as 40 but the average age of onset is estimated at 62.
Ms Hardy was originally a banker but that changed after her mother was diagnosed with PSP. Within a year of her mother's eventual death, her husband died of bone cancer.
"I just felt that I had to make a difference. The chance came up to do this job and it is an honour," she said.
For more information and to make a donation or arrange a tea party, call 01327 322 410 or visit www.pspeur.org.