Rhinos fan puts on comedy night for great cause

Mark Wilson has been supporting the Rhinos for 25 years. He used to do work for the Rhinos for Nadine Burgess in the early 1990s. He follows the Rhinos home and away and has been to every final they have been in. He stood in the south stand until he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 6 years ago. After he became wheelchair dependant he now sits in the Carnegie Stand. He told us, "I've had a terrible time over the last few years with my illness but decided to do something to help the charity. I've organised this event myself and the 4 comedians are giving their time for free."
Lifelong Leeds Rhinos fan Mark Wilson from Beeston is hoping fellow fans can support a comedy night in Leeds to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK charity especially following the death of former player Mick Clark from the same disease last week.

Father-of-two Mark had to quit work in 2009 when doctors confirmed his headaches and poor reactions were signs he had developed Parkinson’s disease at the age of just 40.

His mobility worsened, living life in a wheelchair and on crutches, and led him to spend weeks unable to get out of bed.

Mark underwent deep brain stimulation surgery in order to lessen his symptoms in 2013 but that didn’t work. Seeking an escape his partner Bev took him to see comedian Sarah Millican perform in Leeds last year.

The 46-year-old said: “I was laughing and it just took my mind away from sitting in a wheelchair and having Parkinson’s. They were just telling jokes and stories.”

He followed it up with seven further gigs last year including a show in Huddersfield, where he became friends with the night’s compere Jonathan Mayor, whose husband Leon was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007.

Jonathan and Mark’s friendship has led both of their respective families to meet to discuss their experiences of Parkinson’s, helping them both learn more about the condition. “I haven’t done much for Parkinsons to be honest, I’ve been struggling with the issue and I found it really hard to write jokes about. I don’t find it very funny,” Jonathan said. “Mark’s the big influence – he helped me look at it differently.”

Mark has now enlisted the help of Jonathan and fellow comedians Peter Brush, Eddy Brimson and Gary Delaney to perform at a special gig in aid of the Parkinson’s UK charity at the Marriott, off Boar Lane, Leeds, on March 15.

He said: “Before I was trying to keep happy for my family. These lads changed my life.

“I don’t want donations, I just want people to purchase the tickets and have a good laugh.”

Eddy added: “When we get asked to do something like this it makes you realise comedy’s a very purposeful thing.”

For £11 tickets to the fundraising comedy gig visit eventbrite.co.uk/event/15567223986.