ON Saturday I opened the Parkinson's Disease Society spring fete at Nynehead Court near Wellington.

I have direct experience of Parkinson's Disease, which effects over 100,000 people in Britain.

My Dad – who is only 61 – was diagnosed with the condition almost fifteen years ago.

It has an appalling impact on sufferers, and causes huge emotional and practical difficulties for their spouses and families.

There are a number of dreadful medical conditions that can strike people down, including Motor Neurone Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

I am not a scientist, so I will not discover a cure for these illnesses, but as a politician I can do two things.

Firstly, it is important to raise care standards for people with life-changing illnesses like Parkinson's Disease, and I am involved in a cross-party Parliamentary inquiry to recommend improvements.

And secondly, I am committed to supporting innovative scientific research to find a cure. This can be controversial, but I firmly believe that we have a duty to give hope to the sufferers of appalling illnesses.

This is the great new frontier in medicine.

Just imagine if, in this era, we could find a cure, so future generations would look back in awe and gratitude at our progress, just like we celebrate the medical pioneers who tackled previous killer illnesses.