Leeds man with Parkinson’s whose life was changed by stand up comedy to stage final fundraiser

Mark Wilson pictured near his home in Beeston. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Mark Wilson pictured near his home in Beeston. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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A Leeds fundraiser who sought out stand up comedy to help him during his battle with Parkinson’s disease will stage his last event on Sunday.

Mark Wilson, 47, from Beeston, had to quit his job as a private hire driver in 2009 after doctors confirmed that his headaches and poor reactions were signs he had developed degenerative disease Parkinson’s.

But after seeing Sarah Millican perform in 2013, he found comedy helped him to forget about his symptoms, prompting him to set up his own events in aid of Parkinson’s UK.

Mark, who recently became a grandfather, has so far raised more than £12,500 by organising comedy nights in Leeds but the progression of his symptoms means he will be stepping away from fundraising.

Mark’s fourth Leeds Laughter Extravaganza, which is sold out, will take place at the Leeds Marriott Hotel from 6.45pm.

“My illness is getting worse so I wont be able to do it properly – it’s getting more difficult,” he said. “This weekend I just want everybody to enjoy themselves.”

Comedians are giving their time for free and travelling from all over the country to take part in this weekend’s show. Among the acts will be Monty Burns, Caimh McDonnell, Mickey Sharma and Joe Bromehead.

Despite his health issues, Mark is keen to continue attending gigs. He added: “I’ve made a lot of friends in comedy, I like a good laugh – some of the jokes are even about Parkinson’s and it makes me laugh.

“The way I look at it is I’ve got Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s hasn’t got me.”

For further information visit markwilsoncomedy.co.uk.

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