The Parkinson’s Disease Society was founded in 1969.
Recently better known as "Parkinson’s UK".
Halifax branch was founded in 1970 by Hilda Hitchen, 2nd only to Tunbridge
have over 150 members to date and meet every month.
Hilda Hitchen was a remarkable lady. She
was co-founder of the branch – with the help of her church minister
(King Cross Methodist) – on 20th October 1970. She had only been married
for six years, when in 1953 her husband was diagnosed with
Parkinson’s at the age of 40. There was no help or support available and very
little treatment. The drugs we are now all too familiar with hadn’t been
In 1970 she heard about Mali Jenkins of Tunbridge Wells who had founded the
Society after her sister had been diagnosed with PD. Hilda wrote to Mali for
advice and support – The result of which was to set up the second branch in the
country – Halifax.
Hilda worked tirelessly for the Branch even after
the death of her husband in 1974, until her own failing health forced her to
take a back seat in 1999. Even then she was always available to
give advice, and was Vice President of the branch until her death in
She was one of the first people to be made an Honorary Life Member of the
Society and the framed certificate signed by Princess Diana took pride of place
in her living room.
One of Hilda’s ambitions was to set up a Specialist
Parkinson’s Nurse Service and just prior to her death in 2004 we were
very pleased to be able to tell her of our success in securing a nurse in
Hilda once said ‘Of course, I would rather
Parkinson’s hadn’t existed in my life, but through the PDS I’ve learned an
awful lot, made so many good friends, locally and nationally and it has
expanded my life so much.’