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Volunteer brings a musical touch

Roslyn Lafrentz [left] with Marguerite Chadwick. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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More than 60 people attended an event where a Carterton woman’s efforts to help people living with Parkinson’s disease was recognised.

Marguerite Chadwick was awarded the Parkinson’s New Zealand Volunteer of the Year regional award for the Wairarapa at the event at the RSA citizens club in Carterton last month.

Chadwick, who has had the condition for many years, has helped others similarly affected across the region for at least five years.

Roslyn Lafrentz, Wairarapa Action Group leader for Parkinson’s New Zealand, presented the award.

Janeane Summerfield, community engagement adviser for the Lower North Island for Parkinson’s New Zealand said Parkinson’s Wairarapa had many volunteers who helped, supported, and raised funds, but Chadwick’s contribution had been exceptional.

“There is one person who needs a special mention. This is the recipient of this year’s volunteer award – Marguerite Chadwick,” she said.

Chadwick was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012 and the condition affected her voice. She participated in LSVT LOUD, a speech therapy programme for people with the condition, but found there was no satisfactory follow up in Wairarapa. She helped arrange for an LSVT LOUD programme to be run from Masterton and also set up a choir in the region.

“After some research and contact with other groups, in 2016 Marguerite decided to set up a singing group not just to help herself but for others similarly affected,” Summerfield said.

This group still meets at the Greytown Working Men’s Club every Wednesday. It has a steady membership of about 20, which it has maintained through lockdown and beyond.

“Marguerite organised the songs, song books, music, electronic piano, pianist, and an experienced choir master to lead the group. Last year the group was able to do away with the books and song sheet when an opportunity to be able to display the songs on a large screen became available.

Chadwick has also served on the Action Group Committee and set up a Tango group after hearing it was good for people with Parkinson’s.

“Whenever we have any fundraising events and street appeals Marguerite is always one of the first to put her hand up,” she said.

“Marguerite’s dedication and participation to the success of the singing group over the last five years has been exceptional.”

Chadwick is low-key about the award.

“Parkinson’s can be as difficult as you want to make it. I haven’t let Parkinson’s stop me from doing anything. I got on with life,” she said.

She advises others with the condition to allow some time for adjustment, but not to let the condition define them.

“Just get on with your life. Parkinson’s can be as difficult as you want to make it,” she said.

She said she was an active person and adapted where necessary.

“I did lots of things before Parkinson’s. Now I just do it a bit slower and adjust.

“Having Parkinson’s did not stop me travelling to Europe every few years on my own.

“I went on a safari across Africa.”

She said exercise and dance were important to her and she walked and danced regularly.

“I look up different exercises on YouTube.”

The award had come as a surprise.

“I am pleased I got it. I am just who I am. I appreciate the award, but I get pleasure out of doing things for others. And people give back,” she said.

“I will always put my hand up if something needs doing.”

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand.

Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. The disease has no cure, but symptoms can often be managed with medication.

  • If anyone is interested in joining the Greytown-based choir, they can email Chadwick at [email protected].

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