A HOSPITAL team made up of nurses, therapists and secretaries from the Parkinson’s department beat a squad of patients at their now annual Parkinson’s Awareness Week showdown.

Each week, Swindon men and women who suffer from Parkinson’s disease take part in a walking football practice.

Last year, for the first time ever, the Swindon Parkinson’s UK group held a mini-tournament – trouncing a team of hospital nurses.

A year later, it was the Great Western Hospital team who claimed the trophy. Their team won the match at Kembrey Park facility PlayFootball eight goals to six.

Participants claim the exercise helps slow the progress of the disease.

Dawn Falkingham, 60, brings her husband Tony to the practice sessions every week. “Before, he struggled to do up his shirt buttons,” she said. But on Monday, 60-year-old Tony was charging about the indoor pitch.

Rachel Gardner, lead Parkinson’s nurse at GWH, said: “Some of them can move so much faster and quicker once they’re on the pitch. That’s the adrenaline flowing.”

The sessions are organised through the Swindon branch of Parkinson’s UK.

Branch chairman Dave Logan said of the walking football: “It gets people moving, it’s friendship, companionship and something to look forward to on a Monday. For some, it’s a way of making friends they haven’t had for a long, long time.”

For more, visit: www.swindonparkinsons.org.uk.