Generous donors have helped a man with Parkinson’s disease to raise thousands of pounds to pursue a new treatment regime in the USA, and his friend Rufus Exton has made a film documenting his journey.

Retired advertising agency director Philip Batchelor hit his target of £6,400 in little more than a month, with no fewer than 89 individual people donating.

The gifts have ranged up to one of £1,000, helping the 76-year-old from Stroud to fund two new types of treatment for the debilitating condition which he has had for six years.

He used JustGiving to raise the money after five years of research, as he became frustrated at what he felt was the limited ambitions of medics here.

Philip, who has found a new lease of life playing table tennis, has also worked as a landscape gardener, and still manages to do regular gardening for himself and friends near his home at Springhill.

His overriding priority is to put off the point when Parkinson’s forces him into a nursing home.

“I thought I’m not going to be in a nursing home. I’m very comfortable here – it suits me very well.”

Philip, who has two adult children and five grandchildren, has already started bringing in changes to his diet which he says will benefit his gut and brain.

The other treatment regime will see him replacing his current medication with natural amino-acid remedies, and he will fly out to a centre near Boston at the end of this month.

After he has been checked out by the clinic, he will begin to come off the conventional medication Sinemet, which stimulates the production of the chemical dopamine.

He says the drug has become less effective at treating the shakes which accompany Parkinson’s, and the new regime will replace it with natural supplements aimed at helping his brain to start producing its own natural supply of dopamine.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Philip said he had always responded well to a range of supplements and was going into the process with his eyes open.

“I trust my judgement on it. I don’t see a risk – but that’s me.”

Philip is to be presented with a national award from the English Table Tennis Association later this month, as its Inspirational Story of the Year.

He said he was ‘tickled’ by the accolade.

He said he was in better condition than many other people with the condition and grateful to those who had donated money to fund his travel and treatment regime. The £1,000 came from his ex-wife, but other donations were anonymous.

“It’s been amazing,” he said.

When Philip Batchelor gets a table tennis bat in his hand, his world changes.

He played the sport – along with tennis, squash and fives – as a youngster, but has had to gradually give up as he grew older and the disease took hold.

Philip reconnected with the sport at a social session in the communal area at Springhill, and was later introduced to Stroud Table Tennis Club. He now plays regularly and says returning to the sport has been a brilliant experience.

“I don’t know what it is, but I pick up a table tennis bat and, although my hand and arm are shaking, the rhythm and coordination and timing are reasonably well there.

“I can feel I’m able to get into the game. When I last played tennis, I couldn’t get my legs to work properly, but it’s different with table tennis. This miraculously gives me all that pleasure. The competitiveness has come back. I love winning and I hate losing – it’s a complete bundle of fun.

“There are so many areas of my life where I have had to say, I can’t do that any more. It’s really fun to have something where I can say, I can.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

He was taken to the club by his friend Alaistair Howard-Dobson.

“I’d been gently encouraging him to come down and eventually he agreed – and he hasn’t looked back since. It’s given him a whole new lease of life.

“It’s such a heart-warming thing to see him playing and enjoying it.”

Club chairman Jim Hurford has been coaching Philip, who he says had natural ability.

“It’s felt really good. After every session, Philip is very thankful for the time players spend with him and appreciative of the help he gets.

“You have to admire his determination. He knows he’s not as good as everyone else but it’s inspiring.

“You feel you’re helping him along. It makes a big difference to us.”

The club meets at several times and locations throughout the week, and different sessions cater for different ages and abilities.

* Saturdays at the Leisure Centre from 11am-1pm - all ages/abilities

*Thursdays at the Leisure Centre from 1:30pm-3:30pm - adults only (age 50+)

*Mondays at Nailsworth Primary School from 6:15-7:15 - beginners/early starters

*Mondays at Nailsworth Primary School from 7:30-9:30 - all ages/abilities

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