A GROUP of singers are to hold their biggest summer concert yet to raise money for research into Parkinson’s disease.

Tonge with the Haulgh Community Choir will stage the event in aid of Parkinson’s UK at The Bridge Church and Centre, Bradford Street, in June.

The choir will sing classics from Les Miserables and a ‘wide variety of popular tunes’ including Toto’s Africa, True Colours by Cyndi Lauper and a Coldplay favourite or two.

Also on the bill will be renowned classical guitarist Jon Gjylaci, Sing Bolton, Sing star Megan Rowe and barbershop chorus the Phoenix Knights of Harmony.

The concert has been organised and funded by Marie Boardman, chairman of the choir, who herself was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease two and a half years ago.

Mrs Boardman, aged 63, of Thornton Drive, Sharples, said: “We do concerts every year but generally have a small audience at St Augustine’s in Tonge Moor or a similarly sized venue.

“I wanted to do something on a bigger scale as it may be my last year as chairman.

“I had it in my mind to organise a very big fundraising concert, it’s been a year-long plan really.”

Mrs Boardman has approached local businesses to sponsor the cost of hiring The Bridge and the supporting acts, so all the proceeds from ticket sales will go direct to the charity.

And she said raising funds for further research into the condition is at the ‘forefront’ of the choir’s thinking.

She said: “It’s a very underfunded charity, there are a lot of deserving charities that get more support, but there’s a lack of understanding about Parkinson’s and a lot of research is desperately needed.

“It’s 200 years since James Parkinson gave his name to the disease and we still don’t have a cure.”

And she added that her concern is mainly for those who are struck by the disease early in life.

She said: “At my age it’s easy.

“I was a headteacher, I’ve always been a busy person, but there are very young people being diagnosed —some as young as 20 —and there doesn’t seem to be much help for them out there.”

Last week was Parkinson’s Awareness Week – and new figures showed a lack of awareness of the disease.

The concert will take place at The Bridge Church and Centre, in Bradford Street, on Saturday, June 17, at 7pm. To buy a ticket contact Marie Boardman on 0777 1548590 or 01204 301339.