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Mike Tindall praises 'brilliant' wife Zara for her support during father's battle with Parkinson's

Mike Tindall has praised his 'brilliant' wife Zara for supporting him during his father's 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease.

In an emotional interview with BBC Breakfast's Sally Nugent, the former England rugby star revealed the Queen's granddaughter 'keeps him on his toes' when it comes to finding new drugs and treatment that could help his dad Philip.

Father-of-three Mike - who has been patron of the Cure Parkinson's charity since 2018 and regularly takes part in fundraising events and challenges to raise money for the cause - expressed his desire that 'no young son or daughter should have to watch their idol' suffer like he has.

Mike explained that his father was an athlete who played rugby and excelled at all sports, but now 'suddenly struggles to pick up a pen'. He also expressed sadness that Philip, who turned 75 this week, is unable to play more with his children - daughters Mia, seven, and Lena, two, and new baby son Lucas.

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Mike Tindall has praised his 'brilliant' wife Zara for supporting him during his father's 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease

Father-of-three Mike - who has been patron of the Cure Parkinson's charity since 2018 and regularly takes part in fundraising events and challenges to raise money for the cause - expressed his desire that 'no young son or daughter should have to watch their idol' suffer like he has (pictured with his father)

'Even if there was a cure tomorrow, it's not going to change my dad's life,' Mike explained.

'So that's one of the reasons why I try to do what I do now, because men are men. They do take a long time to go see a doctor, they don't like talking about things, but what you ultimately don't want is for, you never want a young son or a young daughter to go through having to watch their idol - he was my sporting idol, who I wanted to be - go from where he wants to be to where he is now. 

'He knows that that's not quite there anymore, and that's what ultimately I would like to try and be involved in, that we can stop that from happening.'

Asked how much support his wife has been able to give him since Philip's diagnosis, he added: 'She's been brilliant. She sort of gets it and she sort of keeps me on my toes as well a little bit with it, and where we are in terms of finding out more about new drugs that are coming out and new trials and everything else. 

In an emotional interview with BBC Breakfast 's Sally Nugent, the former England rugby star revealed the Queen's granddaughter 'keeps him on his toes' when it comes to finding new drugs and treatment that could help his dad Philip

During the segment on this morning's show, Mike visited his parents at home in Yorkshire for the first time this year, having not seen them for six months

'Yeah she's good at making sure I stay on my toes about what I'm trying to do as well.'

During the segment on this morning's show, Mike visited his parents at home in Yorkshire for the first time this year, having not seen them for six months due to lockdown restrictions in the UK.

He revealed his father has had the condition for around two decades but was only officially diagnosed in 2003, just before the Rugby World Cup. 

'It didn't really dawn on me what Parkinson's was,' Mike admitted. 'If you looked at people who were prevalent with Parkinson's at that time, you would say Muhammad Ali, and you looked at my dad and looked at Muhammad Ali and it's not the same person, surely it's not the same disease.

Mike added that lockdown has been very difficult, both for him and his 'bored' parents (pictured)

'Then life went on, I was 25, rugby was going really well and you were focused on that. 

WHAT IS PARKINSON'S? THE INCURABLE DISEASE THAT STRUCK BOXER MUHAMMAD ALI

Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, including about one million Americans.

It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.

It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.

There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.  

The disease claimed the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 2016.

'When we got married in 2011, you could see the effects were starting to grow on him in terms of curvature of the spine, and he had to have surgery on that, and slowly over the last 10 years there have been loads of other problems we've come across because of it.'

Mike added that lockdown has been very difficult, both for him and his 'bored' parents. During the height of the pandemic, they didn't leave the house for over a year because they were classed as vulnerable.

'When you don't see someone for such a long period of time, you sometimes miss what gradually appears,' he said. 

'He would love to play more with the grandkids, he'd love to be able to pick them up, throw them around.'

Mike's mother Linda, a former social worker, revealed Philip is currently having a lot more injections to help his condition, but struggles to sleep at night, which leaves him feeling anxious.

'I can't move very well, you can't move your body, you're like a dead weight,' Philip explained.

'You're reaching for your bottles, because I can't get out to go to the loo, and so it's just massive in-fighting.'

Philip, a former banker for Barclays Bank who was 'very physically fit and active', said he doesn't like the thought that he has an incurable condition and is gradually going to get worse. 

'I was one of those who liked my fitness and condition. With a ball I would always catch the ball, and this is now not happening,' he said.

'I was beginning to fumble things, and that isn't me. I didn't think it was me.' 

He added: 'I want to feel I'm contributing something, not just a lump in a corner shaking on a chair. I suppose being an active guy, if there's a ball about I'll kick it, I miss the fact I can't do with the grandchildren what I'd like to do.' 

This week Zara and Mike attended the opening day of Royal Ascot, which is going ahead this year with Covid-19 safety precautions in place. 

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