Post People: Dagenham Diabetes UK volunteer nominated for national award
PUBLISHED: 11:54 09 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:54 09 March 2017
Volunteer Bill Foulkes, 83, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates about his work with Diabetes UK after being nominated for an Inspire Award after 14 years of raising awareness
“When I was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes 17 years ago I couldn’t seem to find any help – the doctor just told me to look after myself.
“A friend of mine told me I wasn’t going to drop dead and that the worst thing I could do was panic.
“I attended a patients’ programme that was about taking care of your own illness and taking control. One of the nurses there wanted to set up a support group and I thought that would be a brilliant way to give something back after so many people had helped me.
“I helped set up the borough’s Diabetes Support Group 14 years ago and since then I’ve volunteered for just about anything that raises funds or awareness. It also led to me featuring on TV on the Community Channel four years ago for a show called My Brilliant Moment.
“As a volunteer I’m not allowed to give medical advice, but I enjoy talking to people about diabetes and the problems they face and pointing them in the right direction.
“When I was first diagnosed I lost three stone in a few months because I didn’t know how to manage it – my family told me I looked demented. Then I cut out sugar and fat completely and my doctor told me to stop doing that. It’s difficult to get used to.
“That’s why I spend my time handing out leaflets at hospitals and supermarkets and holding free sessions at Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club in Victoria Road, Dagenham, on the second Monday of every month at 7.30pm.
“We don’t just invite diabetics – it can be anybody who’s got an interest. I’m also on the Diabetes UK lay panel, so we have world-renowned authorities speaking about brilliant tests they’re carrying out to help restore sight to people who’ve lost it to the disease. “I’ve had people come back to me and thanks me for the advice I’ve given them and it’s good to know it makes a difference. One guy told me he always thinks about the advice I gave him – it’s very rewarding.”