A RETIRED police officer, who has been left with debilitating Parkinson’s Disease, is determined to run the Southend Half Marathon – even though he will be in agonising pain with every stride.

Bob Mays, 57, was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition 18 months ago. He now suffers mobility problems and is in constant discomfort.

But as a life-long running fanatic and determined fundraiser, it was going to take a lot more than that to stop Bob, from Laindon, in his tracks.

The former Metropolitan Police detective has put a team of friends and family together to run the 13.1 mile event, on Sunday, June 8, and he intends to be right there with them.

Bob said: “Having run many marathons before, this has proved a massive challenge. This Parkinson’s Disease is beginning to bite a bit now.

“I am constantly fatigued, on occasions my wife has had to help me stand and even dress me.

“I am experiencing mobility and sleep deprivation issues, but I am known for my stubbornness, so although I predict a slow running time of two hours and 15-30 mins, I will get round.

“I have a team of nine runners that are going to help me, with many supporters from my work, and friends attending to cheer me on.”

Although Bob is on medication, symptoms for Parkinson’s sufferers often worsen over time as there is no cure, although Bob is confident there soon will be.

He said: “I really do believe a cure is not long away, but what we need to focus on is getting more specialist Parkinson’s nurses – there simply aren’t enough of them.”

It was while he was in the middle of another charity event in 2012 – a walk from Southend to Oxford, which raised more than £17,000 for Help for Heroes – that Bob first realised something was badly wrong.

He recalled: “During the walk I realised my arms were drooping and I had constant pins and needles, but I just thought it was a trapped nerve or something – and so did my GP when I went to the doctors.”

Further scans revealed what was really the cause.

He said: “I remember leaving the hospital and going outside to my car and having a cry, thinking ‘why me?’ I’m not ashamed to admit that. It came as blow and took me a while to come to terms with it.”

Bob retired from his career as a detective two years ago. He now works threedays a week as the general manager of a monumental masons, on Canvey.

He added: “Parkinson’s can make you feel miserable and one of the side-effects of the medication can be depression.

Although I want the old Bob back I’m fighting this all the way.”

To sponsor Bob in his half marathon challenge e-mail bob.mays55@gmail.com