Yorkshire local invited to Buckingham Palace in recognition of his volunteer work for Park

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George Spencer, 87, a long-time volunteer of the Parkinson’s UK Barnsley & District support group, has been recognised for his outstanding service and dedication with an invitation to attend a prestigious garden party at Buckingham Palace. Nominated by Terry Kendall, chair of the Barnsley branch, George was honoured for his unwavering commitment and for his contributions to the Parkinson’s community over the past 22 years.

For the past 22 years, George has been an active and dedicated member of the support group, playing a key role in setting up the Barnsley branch of Parkinson’s UK in 2001. Since then, George’s tenure with the Barnsley & District support group has been marked by numerous achievements. George’s late wife, Grace, lived with Parkinson’s and having seen Grace’s issues with mobility, he initiated a weekly exercise class for people with Parkinson’s, which continues to be well supported to this day.

He has also been instrumental in organising various fundraising activities, including an annual sponsored walk around Langsett Reservoir, bag packing events at local stores, and awareness stands in the town and Locke Park. From organising monthly meetings and fundraising events to helping secure the first dedicated Parkinson’s nurse in the region, George’s impact has been profound and far-reaching.

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Reflecting on his nomination and the day itself, George shared:

George and his daughter JaneGeorge and his daughter Jane
George and his daughter Jane

“I was so honoured to have been nominated for a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. When the invitation arrived in its official envelope from the Palace, I couldn’t have been more excited. My daughter, Jane, felt just the same and set about planning our trip to London.”

“We queued outside the Palace along with thousands of other guests, huddled under umbrellas and once our papers were checked by the police at the gates, we entered the lovely gardens. There was a band playing and people were beginning to form a walkway across the lawn for the royal party. We managed to see The Duke of Gloucester and Peter Phillips, who stopped to talk with the Mayor of Wakefield who was just in front of us.”

Terry Kendall, chair of the Barnsley & District branch said:

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“George has made a fantastic, meaningful contribution to the success of the Barnsley branch and to the lives of people with Parkinson’s and their families, as well as the wider Barnsley community. George’s meticulous administration and unwavering dedication have laid strong foundations for our branch, which stand firm to this day.”

George, who is set to retire from the committee, will continue to be an active member of the group, sharing his vast experience and knowledge. His contributions have not only improved the health and wellbeing of people with Parkinson’s but have also significantly enriched the community.

Around 153,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, including over 12,000 in the Yorkshire and Humber region alone.

Parkinson's UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through pioneering research, information, support and campaigning.

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The Barnsley and District group meets on the third Tuesday of each month between 2pm - 4pm at Barnsley Emmanuel Church, Huddersfield Road, Barnsley S75 1DT.

For further details about the local volunteer vacancies, please contact Rose Crawley, Local Volunteer Officer, on 0344 225 3634 or [email protected].

Visit parkinsons.org.uk for more information about Parkinson’s UK support groups.