Thursday 11 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Running on Empty: 18,000 Miles Down Africa with Parkinson's by Guy Deacon

Delighted to be part of this blog tour on

 World Parkinson's Day


Publication Day

Ad Lib
11 April 2024

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Aged 60 and having lived with Parkinson’s disease for over 10 years, Guy Deacon CBE set out for one last adventure, to drive solo from his home in the UK to South Africa. This incredible journey, crossing Europe and the full length of Africa, would take the former army officer and father of two over 12 months, 18,000 miles, 25 countries, 5 breakdowns, an emergency evacuation and 3650 prescription pills.

Quite simply an incredible feat for a man travelling alone with Stage 3 Parkinson’s.

With very little use of his hands, poor spatial awareness and often appearing drunk to those who do not understand the disease, Guy would drive, live and sleep in his VW Transporter for 12 months, often camping alone in the jungle and remote spots hundreds of miles from the nearest village or town.

Guy's VW Transporter
By kind permission of the publisher

Navigating himself through cities and towns without knowing the language, Guy would often get lost and relied on locals for directions after taking a wrong turn or when network coverage killed his GPS or when the roads weren’t marked on the map.

Throughout the 18,000 mile journey Guy kept a video diary and was joined on four occasions by a documentary maker. This has resulted in 85 hours of footage and several thousand photographs of this incredible adventure through the heart of Africa which will be made into a 1 hour documentary for Channel 4 to be released in Spring 2024.

Guy was supported throughout his journey by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust a charity set up to find a cure for Parkinson’s as well as Parkinson’s Africa, whose mission is to raise awareness and empower those with Parkinson’s to make informed decisions about their own health.

πŸ“– My Review...

I am in awe of anyone who challenges themselves for the good of others and this intrepid journey across Africa by Guy Deacon shows the mettle of the man. His absolute strength of character shines through and whilst the journey was fraught with problems and discomfort Guy never lost track of his goal which was ultimately to raise awareness for Parkinson's Disease. 

I enjoyed reading the first part of the book which details Guy's army career, this gave an insight into his personality and allowed a glimpse of his tenacity and strength of will so that the epic journey of 18,000 miles, 25 countries, 5 breakdowns, an emergency evacuation and 3650 prescription pills wasn't so out of character but of course, due to the debilitating nature of Parkinson's disease, it would prove to be a huge challenge. 

The detail of his journey in his trusted VW Transporter was an eye popping mission and I enjoyed reading of Guy's 'adventures', the people he met en route, the incredible acts of kindness he encountered, along with elements of uncertainty and also of his unique connection to others who suffer from this illness and those doctors in Africa who are doing what they can to combat the disease. Accompanied occasionally by a documentary film maker, Guy's incredible journey will feature in a Channel 4 documentary which is due to air in Spring 2024.

As this is World Parkinson's Day I am delighted to have been asked to be part of this blog tour, to acknowledge Guy's remarkable achievement and also to raise awareness for this debilitating disease. Parkinson's Disease is a neurological condition for which there is no cure however, there are ways to control the condition with medication. Living with the illness is both challenging and frustrating and all credit to the author for raising awareness of this debilitating disease.

About the Author

Guy Deacon CBE joined The British Army in 1985 after reading anthropology at Durham University. During his time as a student and in the early years of his career in The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, he travelled extensively throughout Africa.

His career has taken him all over the world including 18 months in The Congo with the UN after which he was awarded an OBE for his services in disarming and demobilising rebel forces. After a wide variety of roles, his later career was spent in managing careers of officers and soldiers and he ended up as Colonel of The Royal Armoured Corps where he was responsible for much of the strategic thinking on how The Royal Armoured Corps could best provide an armoured capability to UK Defence. For this work he was awarded a CBE. He retired in 2019.

Guy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010 on his return from The Congo. He carried on working until the age of 57. At that point he started planning his journey from the UK to South Africa which has occupied his time since.

As an ambassador for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Parkinson’s Africa, Guy has visited 25 African countries and spotlighted the issues associated with Parkinson’s disease in Africa. He has appeared on local and national television and radio in most of the countries he visited reaching in the region of 500 million people. His message was clear:

Parkinson’s is a straightforward neurological condition with no cause nor cure and certainly not a result of witchcraft; that it is not contagious and people with Parkinson’s should not be isolated. Any stigma associated with the disease should be rebutted.

Guy lives in Dorset with his wife and their dog. He has two grown up children. He continues to raise awareness of the issues of Parkinson’s as best he can, despite suffering from the condition himself.

About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. The underlying symptoms of Parkinson’s are treated with a range of medication, but currently none of these slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease. Parkinson’s makes day-to-day activities such as eating, getting dressed or using everyday objects like a phone or computer difficult. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement.

Social Media

X @ghjdeacon

@CureParkinsonsT #WorldParkinsonsDay


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