Luke Parkinson, son of former PNE defender Gary, has expressed his gratitude towards North End and the wider football family ahead of Retro Day following his father’s battle with locked-in syndrome.
Back when Gary Parkinson was storming down the wings of Deepdale from full-back, he and his family had no idea to expect the tragic turn of events that would shape the player’s life after retirement.
Suffering a stroke in September 2010, Parkinson was later diagnosed with ‘locked-in syndrome’ - a condition that leaves your muscles paralysed - all the while being fully conscious and aware.
Almost a decade since the news, his life has changed drastically - but one thing that remains the same is the constant unwavering support from North End supporters and former clubs alike.
Now, ahead of Retro Day on Friday, an afternoon dedicated to help raise funds for his care, Gary’s son Luke has praised the efforts of the club to get behind this great cause on the official PNE Podcast:
“It’s absolutely fantastic, nobody has ever really done anything like this before so big thanks to everybody at Preston,” said Luke.
“The fans will always get behind stuff like this. Gentry Day and stuff like that is always well supported, I don’t live far from Bolton Wanderers and they [PNE] had a day down their that was really well supported so it should be brilliant.
“My Dad’s going to come down, there’s a hospitality box for us and hopefully we’ll raise some funds for my Dad’s equipment and the like.”
As well as the club, Luke has also praised the football family in general - including North End’s usual rivals from the North-West.
“He’s played in Lancashire and there’s a load of rivals between the club he’s played for, North End, and Blackpool, Bolton etc.
“But they’re helping raise funds for my Dad and the clubs have been united together - Middlesbrough and Burnley as well - so it’s been really good.
“Football is a great family, when something goes wrong everybody get’s behind you and that’s still continuing.
“We’re close to ten years since my Dad fell ill with his stroke so it’s still going on. Our fundraising efforts being as big as PNE on Friday is excellent.”
Retro Day on Easter Friday, when North End face off against Ipswich Town at Deepdale, will be surrounded with fun activities, meeting former players and donating to the Gary Parkinson Trust - which will help to aid for his general care.
Although Parkinson is grateful for the unwavering support of his Dad, he also pleads to keep it going and to help people realise the battle isn’t over.
“He always used to say he didn’t have many friends, that’s definitely not true now.
“Everybody still sends messages asking how he is and you think ten years on, people have had their own problems, but they still support, send in donations all the time through our website and on social media.
“There’s little events that might go under the radar, but everything keeps ticking over and I try and look after the social media pages just to keep my Dad’s name out there.
“It’s what happens in football, people forget, but if we can just keep his name out there so people don’t forget that and think ‘oh, he might be alright now’ because he’s certainly not in the best condition of all time.
“We want to just keep him out there, keep people positive and hopefully one day we can get him back to Deepdale on the pitch able to kick a ball round or maybe manage the team one day - that would be a real dream.”
You can donate to the Trust by visiting www.garyparky.co.uk, going through their social media channels on Facebook and Twitter with @garyparkytrust or if you aren’t keen on online, you can even head down to the club’s reception and they’ll be happy to take donations.