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Andrew Dunn, Advocate For People With Parkinson’s And Co-founder Of Parkinson’s NZ Receives King’s Birthday Honours

Andrew Dunn / Supplied

Andrew Dunn from Oamaru, has been awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition for his services to people with Parkinson’s disease.

Originally from Wellington Andrew’s years of dedicated service to the community began when his father started experiencing hand and head tremors and dragged his feet while walking. He was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a little known condition at the time.

Andrew became aware that not only was there sparse information for people who received this daunting diagnosis but many were left to manage the condition and its variety of debilitating symptoms alone.

With the support of others Andrew set out to find as much information about Parkinson’s as he could and initiated the first Parkinson’s support group in Wellington in the early 1980s.

After receiving more requests for information it become apparent that there was a real need for information and support throughout the country.

Gathering steam a network of Parkinson’s support groups in regions throughout New Zealand were established with the goal to provide information, education and support. As these groups flourished the Parkinsonism Society of New Zealand was formed in 1983, with Andrew one of its co-founders. Andrew then became inspired to pilot a scheme which provided home visits by a health professional, a programme which is still active to this day.

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When it became evident that a national charitable trust would be more beneficial for people with Parkinson’s Andrew was instrumental in enabling the amalgamation of these regional societies into the Parkinson’s New Zealand Charitable Trust.

Parkinson’s New Zealand’s Chief Executive says, “It has been over 40 years since Andrew Dunn commenced his efforts to establish a support network for people living with Parkinson’s. During all that time Andrew has been a constant driving force in making Parkinson’s New Zealand what it is today.

His passion to provide the best support to as many people with Parkinson’s as possible has never wavered. He is still as passionate and involved today as he was 40 years ago. His efforts over the last four decades has meant that thousands of New Zealanders have enjoyed a better quality of life.”

Andrew’s significant contribution to Parkinson’s New Zealand and people with Parkinson’s is vast. Andrew has been a chairperson and a member of the Parkinson’s New Zealand board, a regional committee volunteer, a delegate at international conferences and most of all an advocate and a voice for people with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is now the fastest growing neurological condition in the world with an estimated 12,000 or more Kiwis living with the condition and significant growth expected over the coming years.

If it had not been for Andrew tens of thousands of New Zealanders may never have received the support required to live with this progressive and incurable condition.

Parkinson’s New Zealand will continue to follow in the footsteps of Andrew Dunn and advocate his life-long vision that all people must have access to trustworthy information, education and support to live positively with Parkinson’s.

To find out more about Parkinson’s New Zealand head to www.parkinsons.org.nz

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world.

• More than 12,000 New Zealanders are living with Parkinson’s today.

• Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that occurs when insufficient quantities of the chemical dopamine are produced by the brain

• The average age of diagnosis is 59, but many New Zealanders are diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s in their thirties and forties

• The main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

o Tremor (shaking)

o Stiffness and rigidity

o Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)

Parkinson’s is not a just a movement disorder. People with Parkinson’s can have other symptoms, such as changes in mood and cognition, low blood pressure and disturbed sleep

About Parkinson’s New Zealand

Parkinson’s New Zealand is a national charity celebrating 40 years of providing information, education and support for people living with Parkinson’s in New Zealand.

Parkinson’s New Zealand is dedicated to ensuring whānau have the right information, education, and support needed to live positively with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s New Zealand offers home visits, phone and video call support, support groups, advocacy, whānau meetings, exercise classes, referrals to health professionals, seminars, conferences, webinars, and social activities.

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