In his own words, Alan Fairbairn was “in a very dark place” this time last year after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of just 36, but remarkably 12 months on he said discovering he had the disease could have been one of the best things that’s ever happened to him.
He admitted that was something he’d never expected to be saying after being delivered the crushing blow last January but after taking the condition by the scruff of its neck, organising a sell out concert, raising £2650 for Parkinson’s UK and appearing in a national ad campaign for the charity in less than a year you can’t blame Alan for feeling that way.
“For the first month after being diagnosed I was lower than I’ve ever been,” Alan told ‘The Berwickshire’ this week.
“I was in a very dark place but I didn’t want to let it control my life.
“I was absolutely gutted to have to give my job up at Hutton Stone which I enjoyed so much but not having work to go to I had more time to try and raise awareness about Parkinson’s and try and help others who were going through what I was going through.
“It sounds really twisted but in some ways finding out I had Parkinson’s was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me”
Arguably Alan’s biggest accomplishment to date and one of the hottest tickets in Duns last year was Shakefest.
Held in the town’s Volunteer Hall and attracting a line up of local acts including Easter Street and The Warehouse Announcement, the concert was a huge success and raised £2650 for a cause that has become very close to Alan’s heart.
“I’ve always been big into my music and it was my ultimate dream to organise a festival,” he explained.
“I’ve got a friend who’s involved in the music business and at first he thought it would be a step too far for me to organise an event on that scale.
“But he came up to me at the end of the night to admit he was wrong and congratulated me.
“It went better than I ever could have imagined. It was an incredibly humbling experience for it to be as successful as it was. I gave a speech at the end but all I can remember is saying thank you; the response from everyone there left me speechless.”
Spurred on from the success of Shakefest, Alan has already got Shakefest 2 in the diary for the summer but first up for 2013 is a Shakefest Ceilidh on Saturday, March 16.
“Having Parkinson’s has given me a ‘let’s get things done things today’ attitude,” Alan continued.
“I don’t want to be sitting in 10 or 15 years time regretting not doing something.
“People are always coming up to me asking when the next event is so I decided to have a ceilidh.
“It’s all coming together really well, I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got live music from the Yoo Hoo Ceilidh Band from Kelso.
“I’m thinking about arranging a comedy night for this year as well and after it had to be cancelled last year because of the weather it would me great to get a football tournament going.”
Having tackled Parkinson’s head on and achieved so much in the past year, Alan was an ideal candidate for Parkinson’s UK’s nationwide ad campaign and was even chosen to speak at the launch in London.
“I was so proud to be part of the campaign let alone be invited to go to the launch,” he enthused.
“The campaign is all about getting people to understand what it’s like to be in our shoes and to raise awareness of the condition.
“If that helps more people seek help or go and see their GP about any of the symptoms that’s fantastic.
“I feel on top of the world at the moment I really do. I feel like the old me two years ago.
“I’ve got to where I am now through the support of my friends and family; I’ve been blown away by how terrific everyone has been.”
Tickets for the Shakefest Ceilidh are available from Nairns, Duns New Plus, The Black Bull and Border Baguettes or online from Border Events or from Alan direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.