Fans answer call to wish former Preston North End player Gary Parkinson happy 50th birthday
Fans and former colleagues have joined forces to wish former Preston North End player Gary Parkinson a happy 50th birthday.
The right back, played 88 times for the club, suffered a severe stroke in 2010 that left him with locked in syndrome.
Gary, who turns 50 today, was left completely paralysed – apart from eye movements – and his family appealed for video messages they could play to him today.
His son Luke, 24, said he had to think outside the box when it came to getting a present to mark the milestone birthday.
“With my dad being in the condition he’s in, it’s hard to get the normal gifts you would get someone,” he said.
“This is a good way to get his spirits up as well.
“We’ve had a good few – enough to make a little video.”
Former North End forward Brett Ormerod, who scored 13 goals in 62 games for club, is among those to have sent a video.
Tony Mowbray and Bruce Rioch, who both worked with Gary at Middlesbrough, also responded to a social media appeal to send in their birthday messages.
Luke said the family also intend to read out a selection of written messages fans have sent in on Twitter.
“We’ve had a really good response,” he added.
“I’m sure it will give him a good boost.”
The Gary Parkinson Trust, which shared the social media appeal for messages, was set up to support his rehabilitation.
Gary Parkinson played 88 times for Preston North End between 1997 and 2001.
During that time he scored six goals.
He joined the club from Burnley, where he spent three and a half seasons, playing 135 times. After PNE, he moved to Blackpool, a club he rejoined in 2006 as head of youth following the end of his playing career. He stayed in the role until 2010 when had the stroke.
Locked in syndrome is a condition that means a person is aware but cannot speak due to almost total paralysis.
Gary can use his eyes to operate a machine that allows him to select letters of the alphabet by blinking.