Leading light Jess looks back on 40 years of group

Jess Bryce was showered with gifts for her dedication to the group. Picture: Michael Gillen
Jess Bryce was showered with gifts for her dedication to the group. Picture: Michael Gillen

The founder of a Falkirk support group has been hailed as a “leading light” for her tireless and selfless dedication to helping others.

Jess Bryce, from Falkirk, started the local branch of Parkinson’s UK back in 1977 when Elvis passed away, Kenny Dalglish signed for Liverpool and the Sex Pistols sang God Save the Queen in her Silver Jubilee year.

Times were very different then, but the need for people with the devastating illness to access vital support is still as fundamental as it was 40 years ago, if not more so.

Jess’s dad Bill Hendrie suffered from the disease, prompting her to establish a local group that would help individuals and families cope with the sometimes overwhelming effects.

To celebrate the four decades since its formation, the local branch enjoyed a party, complete with cake, and presented Jess with gifts for her continuing contribution.

Jess said: “When my dad had Parkinson’s we had to travel to Edinburgh or Glasgow for therapy. We were lucky enough to be able to go by car but I thought other might not be able to so I wanted to start a local branch.”

Branch secretary Linda Corbett said: “Jess deserves all our thanks for making the branch such a success. It’s her baby – she founded it in 1977 when her dad had Parkinson’s and has continued to drive it forward now that her husband Eddie has the condition.

“She works so hard to keep it going and is so supportive of everyone. When my own husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s she was the first person I contacted and I’m so glad I did.”

The branch meets on the second and fourth Tuesday each month at St Francis Xavier Church Hall in Hope Street from 2-4pm. Therapy includes massage sessions.

For more information visit www.parkinsons.org.uk.