Mike Tindall has given a very raw account of the devastating impact Parkinson's disease has had on his father, as he spoke about the isolation his parents faced during the pandemic.
During a recent video call with the Duchess of Gloucester to mark World Parkinson's Month, the former rugby star paid tribute to his mother Linda, who is the primary carer for his dad, Philip.
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He described his mum as "a very stoic, northern lady, who refuses to give her man up".
On how his parents have not been able to see their grandchildren over the past 12 months, Mike added: "What they've really missed out of this year is my mum's missed companionship really of being able to go and see someone else because she doesn't feel now that she’s comfortable leaving my dad alone."
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Mike became Patron of Cure Parkinson's in 2018, and has been a passionate campaigner for the Parkinson's community since his father, Philip, was diagnosed with the condition in 2003.
According to Mike, his father has had a "tough five years", but his deteriorating condition stretches back to ten years - 2011, the year he married the Queen's granddaughter Zara.
Mike spoke with the Duchess of Gloucester to mark World Parkinson's Month
"It's our ten-year wedding anniversary and it was that year that... through his Parkinson's, his spine in his back is obviously curved, and then it caused problems with his discs and then he had to have a wheelchair at the wedding," continued Mike. "He could walk some bits of it."
Talking of how his father lost strength after a back operation and then suffered colitis, he remarked: "When you start adding those things up they've made a massive change over the last ten years whereas before that, you know, it was a lot slower process.
"Then you throw in lockdown and literally they're both on the vulnerable list so they have not literally left the house in a year."
Princess Anne with Phil Tindall on Mike and Zara's wedding day
The Duchess, who is patron of Parkinson's UK, said: "It is very tough, and it affects the whole family not least your mother, who is the prime carer... for your dad."
Mike replied: "Yeah, we keep telling her that she doesn't need to be that, but she's a very stoic, northern lady, who refuses to give her man up. And we're trying to convince her that you're not giving up your man, you're just allowing the frustrating parts of it that, you know, get you sort of riled up, that someone else deals with and it also gives you a life."
The ex-rugby player, who has long campaigned to raise awareness, has been fundraising for Cure Parkinson's with a 750km bike ride. Some 145,000 people in the UK are living with the disease, and were identified as being clinically vulnerable to Covid-19, with an added risk for the majority who are over 70.
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