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Tim Daber, a Parkinson's patient who becomes THE FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR for Parkinson research

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Reception at Congham Hall

Hi everyone,

Since I launched this blog, I constantly mentioned that Parkinson disease is not a sentence to death, Parkinson's is not the end of the world, Parkinson's is not a curse. And I gave you live examples, starting from me, of real people who have Parkinson's and whose life has changed positively because of that. Right?

Well, today I have the extreme pleasure to introduce you to a person who has done something tremendous 2 years after he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's. He was turning 60 that year, and he decided to make it a special year for him and for Parkinson people. He organized a fund raising project that took a whole year to put in place. But the results were unexpectedly amazing! He managed to raise more than £76 000 that were invested in several Parkinson disease-related research projects, and was nominated FUND RAISER OF THE YEAR by CURE PARKINSON Charity!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is TIM DABER!

And here is how it all happened, in Tim's own words:

''My name is Tim Daber and I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2016. From the time my diagnosis I wanted to raise money for research into Parkinson’s. 12 months on from my diagnosis in April 2017 I heard a professor of neurology interviewed on radio who stated that in his opinion a cure could be found within the lifetime of some people with the disease given the right level of investment. Prior to that I had been told that it was an incurable disease and the revelation that it was only lack of funding that was standing in the way of finding a cure proved to be the motivation that I needed.

Over the following weekend I came up with a plan which was to raise £100,000 in a year with the focal point being a sponsored 64 mile walk along the North Norfolk coast path. It was a bold target especially since I had no real experience of fundraising but I decided that I would allow myself a year to plan for it and to hold the walk in 2018 which was the year of my 60th birthday. I called it the 60/60 walk (60+ miles in the year of my 60th birthday).

Sea Palling, start of the walk

I decided to walk from Sea Palling northwards to Hunstanton. I envisaged a number of people walking with me. I knew a little about the Hunstanton Tennis Week which happens to be the biggest open tennis championship in Britain and that seemed to me to be the perfect place for the walk to end. I emailed the secretary to the tennis week and was a delighted when he phoned me a couple of days later. He had a dear friend who had Parkinson’s and sadly passed away in his 50’s. The tournament had no charitable cause to support for 2018 (one of the advantages go having a long planning period) and would like to make me their cause to support.

Tim en route to Hunstanton

I had a route, dates and a finishing point; things were beginning to take shape. There was one very important detail, however, that I felt needed to be resolved before I could go any further and that was who would be the recipient of the money I raised? I contacted Professor Roger Barker at Addenbrookes Hospital. He alerted me to the work of Cure Parkinson’s, the only UK based charity whose sole objective was to find treatments which would slow, stop and reverse Parkinson’s. I spoke to their Chief Operating Officer, Helen Matthews. I was immediately impressed with her enthusiasm and grasp of the subject and so I determined that anything I raised would go to them.

I had shared my plans, such as they were, with two friends who were proprietors of a local micro brewery and restaurant and bar. They very generously offered me the use of the restaurant and bar for an evening and said that they would provide house drinks and canapés free of charge and so the idea of a launch party was born. I wanted a well known personality to launch the campaign and I was lucky that Geoff Capes, former Olympic shot putter and World’s Strongest Man, who was a family friend, agreed to give a speech. I sold upwards of 100 tickets for a suggested donation of £30 a head although some generously paid more. I decided to hold an auction and went about talking to people I knew in an attempt to get some high quality auction lots. Virtually everyone I contacted was very generous and I was very pleased to have assembled the following list of prizes: a ladies shopping bicycle, a pearl necklace, a methuselah of Taittinger champagne, a weekend for 2 in Florence, a Northampton Saints rugby shirt autographed by the entire first team squad, a driving experience at Goodwood, a dinner and wine tasting at an Italian restaurant in Greenwich and tickets for the Cirque de Soleil at the Albert Hall together with overnight accommodation at a 4* hotel.

Tim with Gordon Burns at Blakeney

It was suggested to me that I should also have a raffle as well. Initially I thought that was too much to ask but it was pointed out to me that only a few people would bid successfully for auction lots whereas virtually everyone would give £5 or £10 for a raffle ticket. I duly assembled an attractuive list of raffle prizes which included a Weber barbeque, a hand made dolls house, an afternoon tea and many more prizes. My daughter and her friend sold 2 full books of raffle tickets and collected £1200 on the night. The evening proved to be a stunning success with my oldest school friend whose father had Parkinson’s and who had already promised to match fund the first £10,000 I made also agreeing to match anything taken on the night. The evening got the campaign off to an amazing start. By the end of the event I had raised around £15,000 which really put my appeal on the map.

Sea view cafe North Runton

The challenge now became how to keep the momentum going until August. Again I had some good fortune. A friend already had a place in a Paris to Geneva cycle ride and he agreed to use it to raise funds for me. Another friend who was a director of a large building company operated a scheme whereby staff were rewarded for reporting health and safety “near misses”. He agreed to donate a sum of money for each report received.

My local tennis club held a quiz night and donated the profits to my cause. Other events which I was invited to attend included a vintage bicycle rally, a children’s sponsored walk and a wine tasting at which I had been given a voucher for a weekend at the Ashton Estate to sell. Further, a friend of mine from Uni held a diamond jubilee walk in Sussex in July and donated the funds she raised to me. She had previously become one of my very first donors when she went carol singing in her village at Christmas 2017.

A sheltered spot for lunch near Cley

With all these events over the walk was not far away. I had assembled a team of 9 if memory serves who had agreed to do the full 64 miles with me over a period of 4 days. Each did their own fundraising via an online platform linked to mine. In addition a number of others joined us for 1 or more days.

Happily the weather was fine from 18th to 21st August for the walk. It was pleasantly warm for most of it, the burning heat which we experienced in July that year had fortunately dissipated. I had some t shirts and tabards presented to me which made us quite identifiable as a group. We encountered a good deal of interest from the people we saw en route and a number of donations were made. One act of generosity that I particularly recall was on the part of the proprietors of the beach cafe at West Runton who both made a cash donation and invited us all to have a hot drink and a bacon roll on the house. I still feel emotional as I type that. It was a hugely uplifting experience. We were joined for a while by Gordon Burns, a TV news anchor in the North West and host of the Krypton Factor, a family friend who also sent a message of support. We covered the 64 miles in 4 days averaging 16 miles a day. Tennis week had a finishing tape and we finished the walk to cheers from those there where a very welcome cold pint was waiting of beer.

The finish line!

Money continued to roll in for a number of weeks after. I was interviewed by Radio Northampton live on air both before, during and after the walk. I also managed to get some publicity in Norfolk as a result of a local contact I had made who had a friend who was a photographer with the Eastern Daily Press and who accompanied us on the last day of the walk.

One of the trustees of Cure Parkinson’s very kindly held a reception for the walkers a few days later at which I presented a symbolic cheque to him.

Tim Dabber at the FINISH LINE

And so a year of fundraising drew to a close. When all the counting was done, I had collected just short of £76,000, not quite what I aimed at but close enough to be a credible effort and as a number of people were later to say, much more than they thought I could possibly raise. At the beginning of the year I was working full time and had to regularly burn the midnight oil in order to stay up to date but it was absolutely worth it for the sense of achievement. I was most gratified to be made Cure Parkinson’s fundraiser of the year for 2018. Of course I would prefer not to have Parkinson’s but it gave me both the opportunity and the motivation to do something I regard as very special which, had I not got the disease I very much doubt that I would have done.''

If you wish to share with us your story with Parkinson, please contact me by clicking on the below button.


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