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Haywards Heath TV composer talks of shock of Parkinson's diagnosis
A Hayward Heath conductor's shock diagnosis of an incurable brain condition has led to the creation of a star-studded charity concert.
James Morgan was told he had young-onset Parkinson’s just over a year ago after gradually developing symptoms including pins and needles and a shaking hand.
The conductor, composer and producer from Haywards Heath is now facing an uncertain future as he comes to terms with his health.
Mr Morgan, 44, said: “It began when I developed pins and needles but I didn’t do anything about it for a long time.
“Then I developed a bit of a shake but again I left it.
“It was when I was being filmed conducting on a show in Denmark and the camera panned my hand and I noticed how much it was shaking.
“I realised I needed to get it checked out and I was diagnosed.
“I had no idea that young people could suffer from Parkinson’s. I’d always associated it with older people. I’ve since learned that one in 20 people diagnosed are under 40, so it is more common than you think.”
Mr Morgan and his partner Juliette Pochin have worked in the TV, film and music industry, including for shows Armstrong & Miller and The Kumars at No. 42.
They have produced music for Elton John, Julian Lloyd Webber and Robert Plant and Mr Morgan has conducted artists and events as varied as Jamie Cullum and Rick Astley.
Mr Morgan and Ms Pochin have joined forces with Parkinson’s UK to stage Symfunny at the Royal Albert Hall on June 4.
It will feature comedians Armstrong and Miller and Jason Manford, musician Julian Lloyd Webber and singer Rebecca Ferguson.
Mr Morgan is now on medication to control his symptoms and at the moment he is coping well.
However he says the uncertain future he is facing is one of the most difficult aspects of the condition to cope with.
He said: “The condition affects people in different ways so you can’t predict what is going to happen and you have no control over it.
“I know various things are going to happen but I don’t know when and by how much.”
Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there is currently no cure.
Mr Morgan has been encouraged by the support he had received since going public with his diagnosis.
He said: “I was concerned that I would be stigmatised, pitied and overlooked. I’m overwhelmed by the support my friends and colleagues in the business have given me.
“This event has not only allowed me to prove that I’m still here and working, but also to use what I know best to raise awareness of this cruel condition and help by raising funds.”
There are an estimated 127,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK, approximately one in every 500.