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Sport Parkinson’s help Hamish to achieve his goals

I am Hamish Turnbull, Director of Sport Parkinson’s, a Scottish Borders man born and bred in Hawick, that famous rugby town. Where Bill McLaren hails from.

I was fortunate to have been taught by the great man in his daily job as a PE teacher. He ran/invented mini rugby for the five primary schools in the town in the early 70s. Despite his busy tv commentary schedule, he made time to bus his primary school rugby boys to and from Murrayfield on international day. We all dreamt that one day we’d represent and play for our country! I confessed to being one of his child protégés, captaining and winning all the P6 & P7 team tournaments. I showed promise!

My secondary schooling was at George Watson’s College Edinburgh where I was privileged to play with the Hastings brothers and a few other pals that became future internationalists.

Alas, I didn’t follow Gavin & Scott’s illustrious careers, although Gavin did try to get me to play for his London Scottish side when I moved down to London to settle into my new career in 1986. Although he didn’t convince me to play at London Scottish, he did the next best thing, directed me to ORRFC because the club at that time were famous for a junior club. That club made it to the latter stages of the John Player knockout tournament, having beaten Exeter & Saracens, only to narrowly be beaten by Gloucester in the SF!

The old pal's advice paid off and in 1987 I joined Old Reigatian’s RFC. I played 1st & 2nd team rugby, captaining the 2nds and later the Vets for longer than memory serves!

Hung up my boots officially in 2015 just prior to being diagnosed with PD in 2016.

The club was hugely influential helping me to come to terms with this life changing disease. The club appointed me their charity ambassador for Parkinson’s Disease. Along with a committee of old playing mates we raised significant funds for PUK between 2018 and 2020, only to be stopped in our tracks by the pandemic.

Post-pandemic, I was contacted by that dear old school pal Gavin again who was involved working with a newly found charity called ‘Sport Parkinson’s’. They were looking for Scottish Parkinson's golfers to represent their country. He put me in contact with their founder and chairman in 2021, having played in all three of the Sport Parkinson’s Four Nations Golf tournaments since.

My golf career has been resurrected, I've become a co-director of Sport Parkinson’s, and made lifelong friendships with the most incredible fellow Parkinson’s battlers.

My newfound interest being back playing golf can be contributed to pushing myself to do some form of exercise daily.

I was later introduced to a new version of touch rugby, namely the invention of walking rugby. A few ex-playing mates and I started up our Walking Rugby section two yrs ago. We’ve gone from a merry core of six to nearly 40 players.

Sport Parkinson’s have provided us with a grant from their “Health and Strong Fund” to purchase a rugby kit for the team.

Personally, I struggled to last the early training sessions to start with, but still persevered, managing to stay upright for most 10-minute matches.

Being back interacting and socialising in team sport has improved my overall wellbeing 100%.

Our aim at Old Reigatian's this year is to begin looking at how we can attract Parkinson's battlers like myself and David Eccles to take part in the sport. It is a guarantee of great fun and great satisfaction with full inclusivity and a reassurance that safety is paramount at all times.

Through contacts with other likeminded neurological charities, the club has worked with MSD, MS and PUK. It’s our intention to network with these and more local Neuro-related charities.

So come to our Old Reigatian’s Walking Rugby Festival in August where we hope to attract a good number of newly-diagnosed Parkinson’s battlers to come along and experience playing. Beginners and more experienced heads are more than welcome to take part and enjoy the festival!

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