Dorothy is Parkinsons UK life member

PARKINSONS UK has awarded honorary life membership to a Nailsea woman who has devoted nearly 20 years of her life to the charity.

Dorothy Close, aged 66, whose husband Bob, aged 68, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 38, set up a North Somerset branch of the organisation in 1994.

She chaired it for 13 years, despite being disabled herself and having to care for her ailing husband, until her retirement last February.

The accolade was presented by Dr Ruth Roberts, who has recently retired as a consultant for the elderly at Weston General Hospital.

Dorothy’s proud sister Sue Drew said: “I could say many words

about her dedication to Parkinsons UK but I think the most important aspect of her work was ensuring that the members and their carers were respected and that whatever she could do to make life happier and easier for all concerned she did.

“I live in Plymouth but over the past few years have spent a few days each month with her and during this time she was always actively involved in organising something for the members and her phone was always ringing.

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“If you were to walk with her, in her wheelchair, into Nailsea you would have to give yourself lots of time as many people want to stop and chat with her.

“Bob has had to go into a nursing home due to his complex needs.

“This in itself was a heart breaking decision for them both, as well as for their son Jonathan.

“However, despite it being a very sad time, she continued with her role as chair of the branch, as well as her social and welfare duties.”

Dorothy, who lives in Silverlow Road, was also previously honoured by the 2010 High Sheriff of Somerset in recognition of her ‘valuable services to the community’.

The then sheriff, Pat Hunt, said: “She herself is chronically disabled but despite that she has done so many things that I can hardly list them.

“For example, she has organised Comfort Days, campaigned on welfare issues, arranged for talks from leading researchers, organised holidays away, attended national conferences, campaigned successfully for a community support worker, liaised with local GPs and their staff, organised transport to each group meeting and helped to start a younger persons’ Parkinson’s Group, the Yappers.

“But perhaps most important of all, she has taken a personal interest in members, including those too frail to attend meetings.

“The original membership of 44 has increased to 173 which is a record to be proud of.”

Sue added: “Dorothy feels extremely honoured and humbled by both awards, especially as the recommendation came from members of the branch.”

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