DAVE Logan has a practical approach to life which served him well during 22 years in the RAF and a second career involving key roles at Honda.

He has guided the pilots of stricken aircraft safely back to runways, co-ordinated search and rescue operations, organised the computerisation of supply chains and spoken at conferences.

His experiences, he admits, serve him well at the Swindon and District branch of Parkinson’s UK, which helps people living with a condition Dave himself was diagnosed with 16 years ago.

“If something had to be done, a way had to be found to do it,” he recalls of his RAF years.

Dave offers straightforward advice to anybody coming to terms with a similar diagnosis.

“Tell yourself, ‘Okay, I’ve got Parkinson’s but it’s not got me.’ Think what you can do and not what you can’t – and because you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to be, because you don’t know how long your progression is going to be, it’s pointless worrying about it. It’s unknown.”

One in every 350 people in the UK can expect to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and an average of two people per hour are given the news.

The condition hampers the brain’s ability to produce dopamine.

“Dopamine makes the part of the brain that controls movement, balance, multi-function and implicit learning work.

“If you think of movement, there’s nothing in the body that does not involve movement – breathing, bowels, bladder, eyes. Anything can be affected and no two people are the same. Each individual person gets their own individual package of medication to suit the symptoms they have, and that changes over time.

“It is degenerative. There is currently no cure. There is nothing that stops or delays it except one thing. Exercise gives those brain cells some protection and makes them last longer.”

The organisation Dave chairs works closely with a group of health professionals, the Swindon Parkinson’s Services Team. It is the only group of its kind in the country.

The list of local Parkinson’s UK services and events is far to long to be reproduced here, but ranges from exercise classes and dance sessions to social gatherings and support for loved ones.

Its programme of events for Parkinson’s Awareness Week includes fundraising collections, a walking football match and a meeting at the Mayor’s Parlour in the Civic Offices.

Parkinsons UK also works to raise awareness and prevent misunderstandings in the wider community.

More than one person with Parkinson’s has been wrongly and embarrassingly accused of public drunkenness because of tremors or difficulty with co-ordination, for example.

In a particularly distressing incident, a customer in a shop was ordered to leave by a manager when uncontrollable movement caused by Parkinson’s made his shoes squeak on the floor.

Immediately after diagnosis, many patients are too stunned to take in further information.

“Like anybody who is told about any condition, whether it’s cancer or anything else like that, they don’t hear anything else afterwards. They go home and all they’ve heard is that they’ve got Parkinson’s.

“About a month later they bring back the newly-diagnosed people to meet the team who are going to look after them, and they explain more.

“We produced a DVD which we provide to the hospital. It was filmed at the hospital and includes the consultants, the nurses, the physios, occupational health, ourselves, everybody else.

“Some people have always been totally independent, and their immediate response is that they’re not going to go seeking help.

“There are others who don’t want to join the branch because they’re frightened of seeing people worse than them and the road they may travel, and there are others who are quite happy to seek help straight away.”

The Swindon and District branch website, which has plenty of contact information, can be found at www.swindonparkinsons.org.uk