Alun Morgan (BA Maths 1968-71) left Warwick and became a teacher. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at the age of 49 his life took a different turn and he is now an active and vocal advocate for people living with Parkinson's disease. April 16-22 is Parkinson's Awareness Week, to find out more visit the Parkinson's UK website.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an engineer, then an optician, then a mathematician. I never dreamt that I would teach!
What was the best careers advice you were given?
Everyone walked into a job when I was leaving school and university, with or without qualifications, hence my generation didn’t need much careers advice, so the best advice was “no advice”. It is a paradox that whilst pupils leave school with far too many qualifications, and endless advice, there aren’t many jobs.
Describe yourself in three words
Relentless, happy, caring.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
I retired early, and in my “unpaid job” the challenge is to give hope to people who have chronic conditions.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Organising a really successful conference for Young Parkinson's living in the UK.
What drives you?
Fear! I do many things so I don't have to think of my future
What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
A cure for Parkinson's disease
Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
Still in the land of the living, because you can still help others when you are alive but not when you are dead
How would you like to be remembered?
- As someone who got things done and didn't put himself first.
- Alun’s funeral service was uplifting and humorous, bordering on the tasteless
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?
- Meeting new friends who have kept in touch for the last 40 years.
- Playing Camels in the Library when it was time to revise for exams.
- Discovering ten-pin Bowling the only 'sport' I wasn't useless at!
Do you have any advice for new graduates?
Do some work at least more than one hour per day, I didn't and I have paid a heavy price - I was a teacher for 27 years. Widen your knowledge, read books and keep what you do with your life in proportion
Anything else you would like to add?
- I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when I was 49. This has had an impact on my life, beyond what I thought was possible.
- I became Chairman of the Young Parkinson's Network (UK).
- I am on the Board of Trustees of Parkinson's UK.
- I have by talking or by deeds inspired People Living with Parkinson's to realise that there is life after Parkinson's, that they can be optimistic and it is possible to lead a normal life. By giving an annual lecture in Cardiff University to pharmacy students I have inspired some staff and some students to commit themselves to research the causes, the treatments and look for a cure and also raise money for research projects I have spoken to researchers, students, carers, nurses, salesmen, HR people, high flying executives in the NHS, and staff at Parkinson's HQ.
- I am a Parkinson’s Voices Advocate.
- I have attended both World Parkinson’s Congresses, and European Parkinson’s Disease Association Conferences in Dublin, Stressa, Zagreb and Budapest.
- I tried to broaden the horizons of my A level students by suggesting that they shouldn’t go to Swansea or Cardiff but consider Warwick. I taught Ruth Jones (In Gavin and Stacey, Nite Nite and other TV productions), who attended Warwick. My daughter went to Warwick.
- If I had done some work I could have had a high paid job
- If I had done some work I could have been a mathematician
- if I had done some work I could have become an actuary
- If I had done some work I could have been a tax inspector
- If I had done some work I would not have met my wife and would not have lovely children of whom I am so proud. So on balance it is better to be happy and not become someone you are not.
Alun Morgan: the facts
|Lives:||Bridgend, South Wales|