Hereford and District Branch



Chris Frith

2022 AGM Chair’s Report:

President, CEO, Chairman, Ladies & Gentleman,


Welcome to you all. We are indebted to our host Sebastian Bowen for providing this historic venue and not just historic for the city, as I will explain later. Sebastian kindly chose us, as his charity to support, whilst holding the office of Chairman of Herefordshire Council. Earlier this year he held a service and provided a lunch dedicated to voluntary groups in Herefordshire at St Mary the Virgin, Kington followed by a lunch at the Burton Hotel and he kindly donated half the collection to us.


As many of you know we had been planning to hold a spring charity event at the Shire Hall and tickets were about to be sold when the pandemic spread to the U.K. in 2020, we had to cancel that event, however that gave us the opportunity to hold our AGM here in the magnificent Hereford Town Hall where 33 years ago the foundation of our branch was proposed and planned by our branch’s founders (1998).


So what have we all been up to since our last AGM in 2019? Covid-19 devastated most of our activities and events. We have learnt the meaning of isolation, separation, distancing social/homes/bubbles, masks, tracker app/tests, illness, complications - smell loss, long covid. Fortunately we did not appear to have a surge in Parkinson’s secondary to the coronavirus, as we did during Spanish flu a century ago (1918-19). (Dr Wales later told us that they have noticed a recent surge of new referrals which she thought was due to Covid-19 initially taking priority in the NHS and hence delaying GP referrals)


Whilst we as individuals and families kept in touch during the pandemic lockdown using FaceTime, WhatsApp etc, we purchased a zoom account for committee meetings and to help some of the groups to continue online. Fiona produced the sParks our newsletter more frequently, varied the content and tried different delivery methods. We developed a new website and linked it’s home page to both our twitter (@parkinsonshfd) and Facebook (Hereford & District) accounts. Between lockdowns we had a Summer BBQ and Len’s Band entertained us in Lugwardine. The committee even phoned all 200 of our members during the second lockdown.


Membership funding has been reducing (yet Membership only minimally reduced) Keith had warned us that this would occur as the membership form has been reworded by ParkinsonsUK, to not ask which branch people wished to support and to not include an expectation to give a donation to your local branch.
Fundraising reduced to a trickle as it was impractical to hold events but as our expenses had also reduced, we
haven’t applied for a grant from the Herefordshire Community Fund (Bulmers) for the last 2 years. This means we have a better chance of obtaining one when we do apply. The committee phoned and wrote to all undertakers a few years back to make them aware of our existence and that seems to have resulted in more funeral collections along with in memoria donations being forwarded to us rather than just to ParkinsonsUK.


Thanks to those volunteers who have left the committee Keith Siggers (Hereford Friendship group,Welfare committee,Membership secretary), Sandie van Someren (Ross Friendship Group), Richard Pearce (Café representative). I am particularly indebted to Len Vidler who has retired after most ably being our Treasurer for the last 8 years as well as Chair of our Welfare Committee. He also finds time to support newly diagnosed people all over the country through the ParkinsonsUK mentoring scheme. Len has assisted us in obtaining numerous grants, piloting Parkinsons U.K.s central banking scheme and provided us with projections to help the branch’s financial planning. I would also like to acknowledge the support Jean Danford has given people with Parkinsons she has now retired and we are sorry to lose her yoga class in Ledbury. Fortunately Jean has passed on her expertise in teaching Yoga particularly to people with Parkinsons in both her teaching and a book.


Congratulations to Sue Cole on her recent Queen’s New Years Honour of an MBE for her charity work both with this branch and a school in Kenya.


Thanks to all our volunteers.


I am grateful to all the committee members Fiona Jones, David Johnson, Alison Martin, Jane Thornhill, Bob Thornhill and Duncan Jones. They have all kept the branch ticking over and adapted it to the requirements needed during the pandemic.


I am also grateful to all our instructors particularly Jane Allcoat (Exercise), Claire Fowler (Canaries), Lin Leong (Yoga) in Hereford and Catherine Tester (Yoga) in Leominster who all provided online lessons for our members during the pandemic. All these groups are once again meeting face to face.


At this point Catherine told us about her experience and Yoga training for people with Parkinsons and her group in Leominster which is open (like all our groups) for all our members to trial for free.


We also offer both Conductive Enablement through Annamaria in Leominster (Annamaria kindly also manages our Branch’s Facebook page) and Conductive Education by the Megan Baker Trust in Ledbury.


I would like to thank both Jane and Ann Henderson who respectively support our branch and provide individual information from ParkinsonsUK. Unfortunately neither of them are unable to be with us today. Both we as a committee and our members appreciate their high quality, professional support they give us but we appreciate that they can’t do as much for us as they previously could as both have had the areas they cover increased over recent years. We have a great working relationship with them both. Ann will be available to meet us at a coffee morning arranged for us all in the Addisons Suite at Edgar St the ground of Hereford Football Club on Friday April 29th 10am-2pm She will have a selection of awareness and support information available which we can share with our carers, families and friends if we wish.


Finally I must thank the NHS who have provided a service to our members despite not being able to see all their patients face to face and having their staff and facilities stripped away during the early stages of the pandemic making their caring for people with Parkinsons difficult.


Written and delivered at the AGM 18th March 2022 by our Chair.

Part 2 “Looking to the future”, will follow in the next newsletter.