Norfolk woman who has battled Parkinson’s since aged 22 determined to run charity 5k in memory of her mother

Ttop left to bottom right: Lyndsey McVey, Liz Williams, Penny Calvert, Jemma Bickle, Rebecca Fraser,

Ttop left to bottom right: Lyndsey McVey, Liz Williams, Penny Calvert, Jemma Bickle, Rebecca Fraser, Danielle Green, Niki Oldroyd, Naomi Pearce. Picture: Niki Oldroyd - Credit: Niki Oldroyd

A woman who has been battling Parkinson's disease since the age of 22 has set her sights on running a 5k race in memory of her mother.

Niki Oldroyd is running the Race for Life with a team of staff and mums from St Nicholas House School in North Walsham, where her husband is the headteacher.

Mrs Oldroyd started running 5 years ago after her mother, Lois Ash, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the January of 2013.

Despite not being a runner, and the Parkinson's making running difficult, she was determined to run the Race for Life and followed the popular NHS Couch to 5k running program.

In 2013, running with friends, she raised £3000 for Cancer Research.

Mrs Oldroyd said: 'Mum died in November 2013 and since then I have run another two races one 10km (never again) and one 5km.

'However by 2015 running became impossible. My Parkinson's was getting progressively worse, and I regularly fell at least twice a day and often needed a wheel chair to get around.'

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But in November 2016 Mrs Oldroyd underwent pioneering Deep Brain Stimulation surgery at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurology in London.

During a seven hour operation surgeons implanted an electronic neuro-stimulator into her chest, and connected it via wires under her skin in her neck, and into the front of her brain.

Following the surgery, Mrs Oldroyd said: 'It seemed right to try running again in 2018, five years after Mum died and I have decided to try to run the Race for Life again.

'Although my implant has meant I no longer fall, and my walking is so much better, my running is not always great with my left leg particularly problematic.

'I am currently experimenting with a 'running setting' and a 'walking setting', ie. different electrical stimulation for each with not much luck, but I will keep trying.'

Mrs Oldroyd has been heavily involved in raising money for Early Onset Parkinson's.

She is a co-founder of Parkinsons Ride, a Norwich based charity that helps younger people who find themselves diagnosed with what is traditionally thought of as an old persons disease.

She said: 'Every hour someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's and one in 20 of those is under 40. It is a disease that robs the sufferer from the ability to move with symptoms such as rigidity, 'freezing', tremor, instability and falls to name a few.

'It can be devastating to be told that you have an incurable, degenerative disease in the prime of your life and we face much different problems than elderly sufferers.'

The Race for Life is taking place on Sunday, May 13, at the Norwich Showground.

Mrs Oldroyd added: 'I am very proud to be running with a group of staff and mums from St Nicks who have been training since January to run the race. They have been massively supportive, and despite actually not liking running very much I am looking forward to it.'

To sponsor Niki and the St Nicholas House team, visit the school Facebook page: St Nicholas House Prep School and Nursery or go to Nikki's Race for Life page.