Back from skiing and ready for his next Northern Soul dance marathon, Parkinson’s sufferer John Sheffield has just donated £3,300 to support groups in Airedale from the sale of his hand-drawn calenders.
Mr Sheffield, 56, of Eldwick, near Bingley, was hit by the debilitating nervous disorder four years ago, but has kept up an active lifestyle thanks to a determined attitude to his condition.
“I knew something was wrong when I walked out of a sandwich shop one lunchtime and suddenly my left leg wouldn’t work. I was dragging my leg and had tremors in an arm,” said self-employed electrical design engineer Mr Sheffield. He went to his doctor and began tests to discover the correct balance of combative drugs.
“It took about a year to get it right which was frustrating, but then everyone is different,” said Mr Sheffield.
Mental attitude is also important in how people cope with Parkinson’s and he resolved to continue with all his energetic hobbies, including seven-hour Northern Soul dance events.
“Coping with Parkinson’s is all about being positive, which is why the support groups at Baildon, Shipley and Keighley are so important,” said Mr Sheffield, who decided to create a calendar from his pencil drawings of local landmark buildings.
“I’d not done art since school, so that was something positive that’s come out of this. And drawing is very good as it helps with dexterity and physical concentration and takes your mind off the Parkinson’s.”
He got sponsorship for each month and all the profits from sales have gone to the groups, who got £1,100 each.
Chris Flecknoe, who helps with the Baildon support group, said: “John’s very generous donation will allow us to arrange some special outings for the group members including, we hope, a trip to the Alhambra to see Singing in The Rain when this is performed there in September.”
Mr Sheffield’s achievements mask a daily battle with Parkinson’s which can sometimes lay him low.
“I get my bad hours, often as one course of drugs is wearing off. My legs may start to shuffle, but you just have to get through it,” he said.
He and wife Andrea have just returned from a French skiing holiday.
“The mountain air is brilliant and I managed to ski half days and felt so much better. We were playing table tennis at night-time!”