A daredevil grandmother, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, has been performing extreme stunts, raising £10,000 for charity. Sue Brown, 68, from Stanton by Dale in Derbyshire, has been strapped to a rocket and fired across a canyon in New Zealand, gone bungee jumping, skydiving and wing walking all since the age of 55.
An adrenalin-junkie, Ms Brown wanted to prove that Parkinson’s is no barrier to living a full life, raising money for Parkinson’s UK as she has travelled around the world performing jaw-dropping stunts.
The grandmother of four said: ‘I was devastated when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s but was determined that it was not going to get to me. Then I joined the local branch of Parkinson’s UK.
‘I met lots of younger people with it and I thought how terrible it must be for them, with mortgages and all the rest to deal with, particularly when it comes on so quickly.
‘I realised that I needed to do things to show them that, if I can do them, so can they.’
She said: ‘I’d always wanted to climb Mount Everest so that was the first thing I decided to do and it just went from there.’
Over the years she has done several stunts including skydiving, bungee jumping and flying in a high speed plane.
Her favourite stunt is ‘wing walking’ which she performed at the International Air Show at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire in 2003.
She was tied to the roof of a 1940s Bowing Stearman and flown 1,000ft over the Lincolnshire countryside.
She said: ‘Wing walking is absolutely fantastic. I was in the air for about half-an-hour.
‘Because I can’t walk very well, standing there and daring myself to do it was a great idea.’
Last year she went swimming with sharks in South Africa.
Ms Brown said: ‘I got into this cage where we had buckets of blood and gore to attract the sharks. It was really exciting.’
She is yet to plan her next extreme stunt, working on a much safer project for now – raising money for her exercise group for people living with Parkinson’s at Noble Independent Living Centre in Long Eaton, Derbyshire.
Oliver Scott from the centre said: ‘Sue is an inspiration to all who meet her.
‘She is particularly keen to show younger people who suffer an early onset of disability that it is possible to carry on with a normal life.’
Millions of people worldwide, including high-profile figures such as Michael J Fox, live with Parkinson’s disease which affects the way the brain co-ordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing.
Parkinson’s affects around 120,000 people in the UK and is named after Dr James Parkinson, who first identified it in 1817.
It affects men and women, although men are statistically slightly more likely to develop it than women, with symptoms usually appearing in people over the age of 50.