When a friend was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Noel Holmes FCPA started on a quest to help

Noel Holmes (left) and Shake It Up Australia founder Clyde Campbell.

When a cause hits close to home.

When something hits close to home it can be a powerful motivator. For Noel Holmes, it occurred when a close friend developed Parkinson’s disease back in 2009.

“When my friend, Clyde Campbell, developed Parkinson’s at age 44, it impacted on others as well,” Holmes explains. “So when Clyde and his brother Greg started talking about setting up a charitable foundation, I was keen to become involved.”

Holmes was more than happy to take a place on the board of Shake It Up Australia (SIUA), a foundation formed to accelerate research into the degenerative disorder.

Parkinson’s disease occurs when 70 per cent of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells die or become impaired, affecting a person’s control of their body movements.

The symptoms present gradually, with the types and rate of progression of Parkinson’s varying between individuals.

More than 100,000 people are living with Parkinson’s in Australia; another 30 are diagnosed every day. One in five of those diagnosed is aged under 50.

Three years after it began, SIUA is helping to launch successful research forums and webinars.

Holmes says the foundation has gained a lot of momentum and is working with all of the Australian Parkinson’s community.

“I’ve always had a reasonable commitment to social conscience and community endeavours and SIUA has given me an opportunity to focus on one particular area,” he reflects.

“As I have found more time and developed more of an interest in charitable organisations, I now have a better appreciation of the key indicators such as the value of intellectual property, the importance of IT, social media and crowdfunding.”

"Unless there’s a collective effort to help resolve issues, or find treatments or cures, it’s a long road for the few who do devote time to such causes." – Noel Holmes FCPA

Holmes sees widespread, community-based action as the “model to aspire to” in combating diseases and serious illnesses.

He’s also finding that it’s the busy younger generation who are more likely to participate in activities or use their digital nous to fundraise.

“Young people are prepared to put themselves out,” Holmes says, “which is great because unless there’s a collective effort to help resolve issues, or find treatments or cures, it’s a long road for the few who do devote time to such causes.”

Holmes was an auditor and partner in Queensland-based practice Piper & Holmes from 1974 to 2000. He’s involved in promoting Queensland’s Gold Coast, as well as in a printing, design and app business in Sydney.

But he also donates his expertise to a range of causes in his hometown of Lennox Head, on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. He believes everyone can help in some way.

“If time is an issue, then perhaps money is not. Not everyone can give in the same way, but we all have the capacity to contribute,” he says. “It’s a matter of harnessing that capacity and encouraging people to care about their social responsibility.”

That’s something Holmes will keep doing after he steps aside from his five-year term with SIUA.

“But I’ll still stay very involved to help them achieve their mission,” he says. “I’d like to make a difference.”

Hand in hand

Two years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009, father of three and business owner Clyde Campbell channelled his entrepreneurial spirit into establishing Shake It Up Australia Foundation (SIUA) with his brother, Greg.

Its aim is straightforward – to find the cure for Parkinson’s disease, and it’s partnered with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in the US to achieve that goal.

The Campbell brothers personally fund all of SIUA’s administrative costs to ensure every dollar raised, over A$1.1 million so far, is committed to world-leading targeted and strategic research at six institutes in Australia.

In September, the British Science Festival revealed technology with potential to help diagnose and treat Parkinson’s.

Trials are underway to determine if the software, which uses a smartphone’s microphone and motion detector to measure voice and movement, can supplement traditional clinical assessment.

Find out more about SIUA.

This article is from the November 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.