Parkinson's Disease: Meet the sunshine blogger

She may have been diagnosed with a degenerative illness - but Julie Wilks is determined to bring sunshine into the lives of Parkinson's Disease sufferers.

The 54-year-old was told she had Parkinson's in August 2009 and has had to retire from her job and give up riding her Harley Davidson motorbike.

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Now she has set up her own blog to boost awareness of the condition, as well as raise funds for Parkinson's UK.

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Julie, from Guiseley, first got an inkling something was wrong when playing a Nintendo Wii computer game months before her diagnosis and a balance game showed she was leaning more heavily on one foot than the other.

Later other symptoms started, including developing a shuffling walking style, problems lifting one foot and difficulties writing as well as sleep interferences.

Eventually she went to her GP, thinking she might have had a stroke. Instead, after being referred to a neurologist, Julie was told she had Parkinson's. "It was a terrible shock but it was also a bit of a relief," she said.

"I'd had all these symptoms and when I started thinking about it, I must have had them for years. When I knew what it was, I knew what I was up against."

Since then Julie has read up on the condition and learned more about managing the symptoms, though she has had to give up her job as a lab technician at Benton Park School in Rawdon.

Instead she has pursued her interests in art and photography and inspired by a photo of her at sunset, has set up the website Give A Little Sunshine.

It includes a blog as well as information about Parkinson's and images of her artworks and photographs.

"Because none of my friends knows anything about Parkinson's, I thought if I set up the blog I could let them know about it," she said.

Julie, who has a son and a daughter, is now supporting the Leeds branch of Parkinson's UK. She has also sold some of her paintings and is giving a proportion of proceeds to the charity.

She is also hoping to create a calendar of her local photos. Julie's website is www.givealittlesunshine.co.uk. She is looking for help with the cost of printing calendars and artwork for her fundraising.

Daniel Brown.

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