The Walking Football club in Taunton helping people with Parkinson's

A new Walking Football Club in Taunton for people with Parkinson's has been described as "incredible" by its members.

The sessions have been growing in popularity, with members finding their mobility improves as they play. Organisers hope to expand the idea so more people can join.

The initial idea came from Julia Tibbs and Caroline Pike, who help to run the Taunton and District Ladies Walking Football Team.

She says they decided to set up the sessions after attending an event at St George’s Park in Burton-upon-Trent, the home of the FA’s national football centre.

"You see people come to life with a football"

She said: “We got in the car and came back and we were so inspired, we thought 'right, let's do something down here'.

“It started off with ladies walking football and then everything's progressed from there.

“When everybody came to the first Parkinson's session they were quite nervous and they didn't know what to expect. We didn't know how capable they would be, what kind of limitations they would have.

"But all of a sudden you see people come to life with a football and talking, which is absolutely brilliant", she added.

The sessions are run by members of the Taunton & District Ladies Walking Football Team

"We can all be a support for each other"

John Shipley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the first half of 2022 and attends the group. He said: "It's wonderful. I think the first thing to say is that it's normal.

"I used to play football in my youth, very badly generally, and I still play very badly, but it's it's just a huge opportunity to be with people who understand what we're all going through.

“We can all be a support for each other.”

Diana Smith was diagnosed in 2009 and described the session as 'incredible'.

She said: "Looking at one or two of the people - initially we thought they're going to find this a real challenge. They've become so much better at it just through several weeks of taking part.

"The parts of your brain that are not too badly affected kick in and you lose the balance, you lose the tremors and you sort of come alive.”

The sessions currently run every fortnight at Blackbook Leisure Centre & Spa in Taunton. Find out more about the club and contact details on its website.