In our second interview with Dave Clark, the Sky Sports presenter tells Luke Nicoli how living with Parkinson’s disease has refused to dampen his lust for life…

As Dave Clark takes a well-earned rest following the conclusion of the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship on Sky Sports last week, he does so knowing that even bigger challenges lie ahead this year.

Clark’s battle with Parkinson’s disease has been well documented and ongoing for the past nine years. For those not au fait with the condition, it is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, where nerve cells in the brain die, leading sufferers to experience tremors and problems with movement and co-ordination. It sadly has no known cure. 

At the time of diagnosis, Clark was told he had two, maybe three years left as a television presenter, but the fact that he’s just finished his 19th year as Sky’s anchor for the Worlds speaks volumes for his desire, courage, professionalism and, indeed, a determination not to kowtow to such a debilitating condition. 

“I don’t quit, it’s not something that’s in my make-up,” states the 53-year-old, whose father Alan also suffered from the disease. “I know that the time will come when my Parkinson’s will stop me doing what I love, so I don’t look too far ahead.

“My condition means that I live in the here and now; that said I always make sure I have something in front of me that excites me, something to look forward to in the more immediate future. That’s important when you’ve got a chronic illness. You need those targets because you can’t give up. You have to keep going.”

Clark has raised over £500,000 for Parkinson’s UK, which has included walking 200 miles coast to coast, from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east Yorkshire coast, in 2016. His walking boots came back on in September 2018 when he conquered the Dales Way in the 90-mile ‘March for A Cure’ while last year he completed the 100-mile South Downs Way.

“I’ve wanted to prove that having a diagnosis of Parkinson’s isn’t the end. You can still lead a very active and positive life and completing these walks has proved that.

“When you’ve got your boots on, your rucksack on and you’re in the fresh air, you just escape everything, it’s a very simple life – and you just walk and walk and walk. 

“You have a choice; you can draw the curtains, turn off the lights, crawl under a rock and let it devour you – or you can choose to fight it and find a new determination to enjoy the best things in life – and being out in the countryside, in the fresh air, makes you feel glad to be alive!”

Clark has stoically overcome every obstacle in his path to date but even he admits that the task he has set himself for this year will test him to the limit – an 18-day trek in the Himalayas where he will take on Everest base camp.

“At 17,500ft, it’s four times the height of Ben Nevis!” he reveals. “I’m going to try and see how I cope at altitude but it’s another challenge in front of me to try and overcome.

“Without doubt it’s going to be the toughest of walks but one I’m really looking forward to.

“What I always have in mind when I take on these walks is the fact that I’m raising money, raising awareness, and helping to make a difference to someone else’s life. That makes the hard work and toil worthwhile, every time.”

Clark is more than aware that his condition could certainly degenerate by the time of the challenge in November; indeed he leaves Ally Pally each year wondering if it will be for the last time as a presenter, but a dose of realism is always tempered by more positive thinking.

“I know I’m not going to get better, I’m getting worse, and every month Parkinson’s throws a new challenge my way.

“Even now, on a bad day, I can’t even write my own name with my right hand so I’ve taught myself to write left-handed, but one thing I will never do is to give up the ghost. 

“If you’ve got Parkinson’s don’t give up, keep fighting. It’s okay to have the odd sofa day, and it’s okay not to be okay, but try to have something in the diary that excites you. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved so far and if I can inspire others, even better!”

* Follow Dave Clark on Twitter @DaveClarkTV

* Dave Clark is a supporter of Parkinson’s UK. For more information, visit parkinsons.org.uk or follow @ParkinsonsUK on Twitter

Photo Credits: Lawrence Lustig/PDC and Parkinsons UK

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