London-based presenter and commercial model Linda E has fronted international and national campaigns with the likes of Adidas, ghd, No.7 and F&F. She recently started working with Parkinson’s UK to help raise awareness about the condition after her father had Parkinson’s and unfortunately passed away in 2018.
She started donating to the charity and, this year, is putting on an event that’s going to spread as much awareness as possible. Chatting with Entertainment Now via video call, the vibrant personality Linda E talks to us about her family’s experience with Parkinson’s and her Spring Soirée event that’s taking place tomorrow evening.
Your father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012. How did this affect your family dynamic?
It affected it massively. Myself, my three other siblings and mum became his carers. We would rotate our lives around making sure someone was there for him, whether it was giving his medication or moving him if he wanted to go from his chair to his bed or trying to take him out every now and again in this wheelchair or just being around at night time.
We just literally rotated our lives around looking after him.
How were you personally affected by this diagnosis?
It was scary to think of my dad in this way. He was always an incredibly strong powerful figure in my life, he is the person who installed the confidence that I have with myself.
When I first heard that it was Parkinson’s, I didn’t really understand. I thought that Michael J. Fox has it and he seemed to be okay. I didn’t really realise that it was going to cause such a decline in him. Unfortunately, the decline was quite quick. Just seeing my dad go from being independent, always in a suit, to now needing me to move him. It was really scary.
I’m the eldest sibling so it definitely felt like pressure to try and stay strong for him and for the rest of my family. Even my really close friends would know there were certain times I couldn’t go out with them because I would need to be at home with my dad. It was just a real rollercoaster that I wasn’t prepared for. Your whole life changes, you need to pause your plans because you’re not really sure what life is going to look like.
Why do you think Parkinson’s is not something we generally talk about or know much about?
I think the reason why is that it’s something that typically affects the older generations, so I don’t think it’s often overlooked. As it’s something that affects older people, I think sometimes all society just thinks is that it’s something to do with elderly people and they’ve lived a certain amount of life anyway, maybe it’s just part of growing old.
I think that’s why people don’t really talk about it, but the truth is there are people younger and younger being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Some people have been diagnosed in their 30’s and 40’s. It’s something that can affect anyone and it is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world that still doesn’t have a cure. No one really realises the effect that it can have on anyone until it happens.
How can we change the conversation and make sure we are all aware?
Part of changing the narrative is going to organisations like Parkinson’s UK. They have a wealth of resources from information on health and movement and diets, to information about finances and bursaries that you may be eligible for. There are also communities on there and forums. There is so much available, I’d say the first step is definitely going to an organisation like that and seeing what information they have available.
Secondly, I know it’s easier said than done but, being brave and speaking about it when it has affected you or a family member or someone that you know. Just explaining what your experiences are can shed a lot of light for other people. Hopefully, the stigma of not wanting to talk about it can be chipped away at.
If someone is struggling with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, is there anywhere that they can go for help?
I’d say number one is Parkinson’s UK. They have so many resources available. Also equally number one is their healthcare provider, whether it be their GP or their doctor. A healthcare provider will be able to run them through what it looks like to live with it. Those are definitely the top two places.
The reason why Pakrinson’s UK is so high on my list is because of the non-health advice that they give. The whole thing about having this condition is trying to live well with it, which can be possible if you have certain resources and you know certain things.
So I’d anyone struggling with the condition definitely reach out to your healthcare provider and Parkinson’s UK.
You’re hosting a Spring Soirée fundraiser along with Parkinson’s UK tomorrow in Hammersmith, London at 7pm. What can we expect from this?
The event is going to be incredible. Myself, Parkinson’s UK and Pinky Hippo London PR have worked so hard to make the event beneficial and fun. You can expect drinks and nibbles, there are going to be some incredible performers like Nqobilè and The Grime Violinist. Mister Bounce is going to be DJing so we can have some fun and dance.
But most importantly there is going to be an in-person panel discussion with myself, a lady called Omotola Thomas who founded Parkinson’s Africa, and a member of the Parkinson’s UK team just to flesh out what the condition looks like and other resources available. Everyone will be available to be approached on the night and there will also be goodie bags for everyone who attends. We are having a luxury raffle as well with eight different prizes.
Every single penny from ticket sales goes directly to Parkinson’s UK to help raise vital funds and any donations on the night and even a percentage of drinks spent on the night goes towards the charity. We are really doing what we can to engage a different audience who may not know much about it, but also make it entertainment; fun and beneficial and just really an experience where the community can come together, learn, but also have fun at the same time.
Do you have any further plans for 2023?
I would really love to be able to do another event. I don’t know what that looks like yet, if it’s going to be like Summer Soirée or a Winter Soirée. But I’d like to keep this conversation going and not just have it be a one-off. I’d love to do some more things.
I really want to visit the Brain Bank, which is a place where there are scientists that do the research part of how it affects different areas of the brain. I would love to visit there and maybe even document my visit so people can see the other element and what research looks like and why research is so important when it comes to conditions like Parkinson’s.
That is definitely on my list of things to do and fingers crossed for another event as well.