Just as sure as the sun will rise each morning, it will then continue to make the journey along its celestial arc and vanish behind the horizon, whilst we mere mortals try to make the best of the hours in between. Each new solar day that is given to us is a gift, and one some of have learned to appreciate.
When Janet Shipton was given her diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s at the age of forty-seven, she powered through the initial stages of rage and denial, deciding on an attitude of ‘Acceptance, Adaptation and Ambition’ and could be seen championing this at seminars and workshops up and down the country.
In addition to her illness, shortly after her 50th birthday she also experienced a painful break-up with her then husband, and her father who was in his late eighties was gravely ill with cancer. Janet desperately needed to keep up the momentum of previous projects, using her art practice to manage her wellbeing and to raise awareness of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
Janet is a great believer in the healing power of art and creativity. As a response to the first lockdowns of 2020, she and artist friend Liam created an art challenge to keep them busy. She had also completed a 20-day solo art retreat just before the first March lockdown happened, recording her experiences then pulling them together in a printed journal 20 Days in 2020. The profits from each sale were donated to Parkinson’s UK.
You might also have joined us in celebrating her successes with the Parky Players, as featured in Issue 85 where we honoured the amazing achievement of making it to the Edinburgh Fringe with their play ‘Shake it Up’ and the subsequent success of their song ‘The Road’ from the same play.
The 20-day art retreat and the mini road trip she took with her good friend Chris encouraged her to widen her scope. She and Chris, who also has Parkinson’s, were awarded funding by Disability Arts Online to fund their mission, the ‘Artful Parkies on Tour’ their intention to spread the word – and that they did! Encouraged by the feedback she received, Janet found the confidence to apply to a larger funding pot and was awarded Arts Council Funding, just as 2022 unfolded.
She set off on a year of road trips that allowed her to explore her art practice from her campervan, also permit breaks in between for vital check-ins with family and friends. A direct reference to the song and her personal journey with PD, her book A Different Road is a compilation of the years’ worth of blog posts that Janet created after each of her trips. She writes a postcard each month, sharing the emotional peaks and valleys of each expedition.
Janet joined The Beestonian as a writer during that weirdly uncertain time at the end of 2020. She brought with her a compelling passion for her slice of Beeston, the Rylands, tirelessly championing her community and the people in it. Her column ‘Survive and Thrive’ has covered everything from lockdown food deliveries to archery clubs, and a whole lot more in between! Fellow writers welcomed her positivity and warmth and were always in awe of her energy, and the amazing work she does for all of her communities.
Sadly, Janet is leaving the Beestonian team. Not only has she been incredibly busy with the World Parkinson’s Congress and her book launch, but she has also recognised that she needs to take a huge step back to spend time travelling in her campervan and enjoying more of those glorious sunsets.
So, this is our tribute to one helluva woman, who has given so much of herself to so many. It’s time for her to ‘step out of the race’ and take some time for herself. We will miss you Janet; we know you will keep in touch.
You can find our more about Janet’s journey and buy a copy of her new book via her website
All profits from the sale of this book will be used to fund Parkinson’s awareness campaigning and research.