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Playing for Parkinson’s

Sereana Phillipps with her husband Philip. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

MARY ARGUE

What do you do when you have a big heart and you’re a golfing champion?

You sign yourself up for two golf fundraising marathons, and your name is likely Sereana Phillipps QSM.

The grandmother of three, who has represented Fiji in golf on the world stage and who received her Queens Service Medal for services to the community, teed-off at Masterton Golf Club at 7.30am on Thursday.

The one-day golf challenges comprise four rounds of 18 holes and by the end of the day participants have walked the equivalent of a marathon.

Phillipps’ goal is to raise $2500 for Parkinson’s New Zealand.

As at Thursday afternoon, she was $720 off her target.

The Givealittle page is open until tomorrow for donations.

Next month, Phillips will also take part in the Longest Day of Golf challenge for the Cancer Society.

The day’s rules include no caddy or cart.

Her husband Philip Phillipps was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago, so this week’s fundraising was close to home.

Parkinson’s, a neurological condition, causes a loss of mobility and symptoms include tremor, pain, depression, and anxiety.

Phillipps remembered when his diagnosis came through.

“At first he didn’t really accept it,” she said, but with two boys at home they “had to move on”.

“You cannot change anything.”

Phillipps has lived in New Zealand since the mid-1980s and for most of that time she has been a dedicated volunteer and advocate in the community.

In 2018, she received a Queen’s Service Medal recognising a variety of volunteer work, including helping migrant Fijian families settle into life in Aotearoa.

She most recently raised money for Fiji after it was devastated by Cyclone Yasa at the end of 2020.

One round of golf usually takes her about three-and-a-half hours.

“I’m not young, I’m 65 years old,” said Phillipps, but there was no question of her not seeing it through because she was inspired by the nurse who helped her husband.

“I would really like to help Parkinson’s.”

Masterton Golf Club secretary manager Kirsten Hewitt said the golf course would remain open for Phillipps, but the clubhouse would be closed long before she finished.

Hewitt is not surprised Phillipps has taken up the challenge.

“She is a trick, just full of beans, love her to bits.”

Parkinson’s New Zealand employs a range of professional nurses, health educators, and social workers to provide a holistic treatment programme for those with the condition.

Parkinson’s New Zealand communications adviser Alan Koshy said the level of service for those diagnosed with the condition and their whanau was vital.

“When you lose dopamine in your brain, it’s not just the happiness hormone that you lose,” Koshy said.

“Parkinson’s is treatable, but not curable, and as a result your world becomes smaller and smaller.”

But this level of service costs money such as donations.

“Most of the funding for Parkinson’s New Zealand comes from grants, less than 10 per cent from the government.

“When community leaders like Sereana get involved in helping, it is so important.”

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world because of the ageing population and the number of people with Parkinson’s in New Zealand is set to double in under 20 years.

  • Sereana Phillipps Givealittle page can be accessed at https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/longest-day-of-golf-for-parkinsons-nz-sereana.

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