Pool players set Parky challenge

TUE FEATURE: Gary Parkinson - supremely fit sportsman is now fighting for his life in Royal Bolton Hospital after a catastrophic stroke
TUE FEATURE: Gary Parkinson - supremely fit sportsman is now fighting for his life in Royal Bolton Hospital after a catastrophic stroke
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BLACKPOOL players have been given a special mission to raise money for Gary Parkinson.

The popular Pool youth coach was taken ill a year ago this week and Seasiders boss Ian Holloway has revealed that he wants his team to make a big fundraising effort for the 43-year-old’s family.

Parkinson suffered a serious stroke on September 7 last year and was diagnosed with a rare condition called locked-in syndrome. Although he has made steady progress, Parkinson is still confined to a wheelchair and unable to move or speak because of muscle paralysis.

He has had regular visits from Pool’s Steve Thompson and Phil Horner, as well as many other footballing figures such as close friend David Eyres.

He has also had the unstinting support of wife Deborah and his three children. His son Luke has set up a website in honour of his dad. And Holloway is keen for his players to become more involved. “I’ve challenged the lads to help Parky,” said the boss.

“I’ve told them I want a certain amount of money raised. We’re aiming high and we’ve had a team meeting about ideas to raise funds. The lads know what we want them to do and are keen to get involved to help out a man who was a tremendously popular figure at the club and is sadly missed by us all.”

Former Pool player Parkinson took over the youth set-up in 2006 and played a major role in keeping Blackpool in the Championship in 2008-9, coaching the first team and helping out Thompson and Tony Parkes.

Reflecting on the last 12 months, Deborah Parkinson said: “He is still in the rehabilitation unit receiving therapy and care. He is still as motivated as ever to make progress.

“Understandably he does get frustrated and down at times, and that’s when he needs reassurance that he has support from family and friends wishing him well. We have purchased a new vehicle for Gary, which enables us to transport him with his wheelchair much more comfortably.

“Although at the moment Gary has no speech, he is able to communicate through (moving) his eyes. It’s great for us to see that Gary still has that great sense of humour, despite what he is going through.

“Over the summer a number of fundraising events have taken place and it continues to amaze us how well supported these are, for which we are so grateful.”

To find out about future charity events or to leave a message for Gary – all of which are read to him – go to: www.garyparky.co.uk