A caring teacher is going to step up for her grandad, who has Parkinson’s, on a charity walk. Charlotte Curtis, who currently works in a local primary school in her hometown of Chepstow, will take part in the Walk for Parkinson’s in Cardiff on 8 October.

Money raised for Parkinson’s UK Cymru will be used to help support people who have the condition, as well as fund vital research to find better treatments and a cure.

Charlotte will be joined on the walk by her mum, Vicky, her dad, Martin, sister, Emma, and close family friends Lisa and Chris.

Charlotte’s grandad Vlasta (Val) Kacal, 85, who was born in the city of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, was diagnosed with the condition in 2019, but experienced symptoms such as a tremor for a decade before that.

His parents came from the town of Pilsen, in the Czech Republic, but moved to Trinidad and Tobago shortly before the Second World War broke out. His father, Vlastislav, started the Kacal furniture company, which became renowned in Trinidad and Tobago, of which a dining table handcrafted by him has pride of place in the country’s presidential palace to this day.

Val, who Charlotte calls her Doushek (the Czech word for grandad), moved to the UK at the age of 19 to study engineering at Liverpool University.  While studying in Liverpool he met his future wife, Hilary, a radiologist who came from Denbigh in North Wales.

Val worked for Penarth-based engineering firm Wallace Evans and Partners, and heoversaw numerous major infrastructure projects, including the building of many of the bypasses across Wales.

The couple have lived all over the UK, even spending a period in Denbigh, where they got married. They had their wedding photos taken outside Denbigh Castle. Eventually they moved to Dinas Powys where they lived for over 54 years. There they became firm fixtures in the local community, with Val becoming Chair of Penarth Round Table and then Area Chair and Hilary doing the same with the Ladies Circle.

As Round Table Chair Val was involved with local fundraisers, which included enjoying taking part in the Monmouth Raft Race. He went on to join Penarth Rotary Club as well as Penarth 41 Club and Penarth Probus of which he is still a member.

Charlotte said: “Last year I did the Cardiff Half Marathon and I raised money for Parkinson’s UK. I raised over £1,000, which I was quite shocked about. “I thought I would get something like £200. But we have got amazing family and friends, who are fab.

“I wanted to do something else and this Walk for Parkinson’s event came up. So I said ‘oh why don’t we do this’, mum was really keen, so we got more people involved.

“I want to raise awareness but also raise money for a charity that is supporting thousands of people and their families.

“Many people saw my posts on social media about Parkinson’s last year and donated, and it was interesting to find some people didn’t really know what Parkinson’s is.

“I think having the discussion and talking about what it is, is really important so that people know the positive impact raising money for the charity could have on so many people, and not just people who have the condition.”

Walk for Parkinson’s is Parkinson’s UK national community fundraising series, and everyone is encouraged to get involved to get active, meet new people, and help fund life changing research.

The Cardiff Walk for Parkinson’s event offers a range of distances around the beautifully landscaped gardens and rich parkland of Bute Park in the heart of Cardiff city centre. These include a shorter, family friendly two mile route which is fully accessible as well as a six mile route for those wanting to take on more of a challenge.

Walkers will warm up together, walk together, and finish together as they start and finish at Bute Park Visitors Centre with other members of the Parkinson’s community.

There will be a variety of Parkinson’s information stalls including local support groups and Dance for Parkinson’ s to visit as well as a performance by SParky Samba group. The samba band’s members come from the local Parkinson’s community and the the group was formed to explore the impact of playing the Brazilian music on their lives.

Parkinson’s UK Cymru offers a range of in-person and online support to help people live well with Parkinson’s. It provides emotional and practical support, health and wellbeing services as well as social activities. It local support groups all over the UK for people with Parkinson’s and those who care for them.

Keri Mckie, Regional Fundraiser for Parkinson’s UK Cymru, said: “Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. In Wales there are around 8,300 people living with the condition. Every hour, two more people in the UK are diagnosed, meaning 1 in 37 people alive today will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime”.

“There’s no cure for Parkinson’s yet. But if we walk together, we can raise the funds to make a difference to the lives of people with Parkinson’s. We can make significant scientific breakthroughs that can help improve treatment of the condition and we can find a cure”.

“Whatever your age or fitness level, we’d love to see you in Cardiff to Walk for Parkinson’s. Take the first step and sign up today!”

It costs just £12 to sign up to Walk for Parkinson’s (under 18s go free!) and the sponsorship to take part in the event is £50. All walkers will receive a fundraising pack with tips and advice, sponsorship forms and an exclusive Walk for Parkinson’s t-shirt to wear on the day.

As well as walkers, the charity is on the look-out for volunteers to help on the day.

To find out more and to sign up to walk or volunteer visit: http://parkinsons.org.uk/get-involved/walk-parkinsons or email: Keri Mckie at [email protected].