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Tony eyes Day 1,000

Since getting a Parkinson’s diagnosis four years ago this month, Tony Bruce’s life has changed in ways he couldn’t possibly have imagined. And now, as he targets playing his 900th consecutive day of golf on September 27th, he’s aiming further still. Tony re-joined York Golf Club a few weeks after getting his diagnosis, having been advised the activity would help his symptoms. It began a golfing journey that builds its own story on a daily basis, as Tony travels and campaigns to raise money and awareness of Parkinson’s Disease – what the World Health Organisation calls the fastest growing brain disorder in the world. In April Yorkshire Golfer reported how Tony, now 71, determined to play every single day. If rained off he’ll play 18-holes in a swing studio or hit 100 balls on a range. Sharing lunch at Strensall (following a round naturally) Tony’s tremors are clear – something not noticeable at all on the course, when he’s got a club in his hands, preparing to take a shot. “The condition is getting worse,” he acknowledged. “I know I’m in a war that I can’t win. But I can battle daily, and win a few of those battles.” Many positives have come into Tony’s life since he started raising funds for Parkinson’s UK, and now also Sport Parkinson’s. On his 700th consecutive day playing golf, the Strensall club inaugurated the annual ‘700’ Trophy. For his 1,000th round (because he often plays more than once!) the club gifted him a barrel of his favourite tipple, Theakstons. He had thought a highlight was being invited by ex-Scotland and British Lions captain Gavin Hastings to represent Scotland in the Sport Parkinson’s Home Internationals. Hastings’ wife Diane was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s aged 39 and has lived with it for 20 years, having undergone brain surgery in 2016 to relieve some of the symptoms. “Actually, maybe the 88-pints of Theakstons was the highlight!” he laughed. There have been many media appearances as Tony has tried to raise awareness, and a nomination as a Community Champion in the York Sports Awards. He’s aware of at least three Parkinson’s sufferers who have turned to golf to help deal with their condition, one a total stranger. His son James has also come back into the game and they travel and play widely together. “It’s great to be able to do something with him that will create memories,” said dad. “Meeting other Parkinson’s sufferers has been an experience, and the opportunity to meet people like Gavin Hastings. The golf has been good but the comradeship has been so helpful in staying positive.” He’s raising funds for his 900th day, but the big target is January 5th and a major fund-raising day at Strensall to mark 1,000 days of back-to-back golf – more details to follow. After that, he’ll consider the future – and particularly his devoted wife Anne. “My wife has been really good, she knows that playing golf helps me, but I need to find some way of expressing my thanks to her,” he added. “If I can help people by providing some kind of inspiration to get back into golf, or walking football – any activity that helps them – then that’s rewarding.”


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