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Midlands volunteers rewarded for amazing contribution to charity


Volunteers from across the Midlands were recognised for the tireless work they do by the charity.

Six amazing winners were presented with awards at Diabetes UK’s Midlands Inspire Awards on Saturday 13 May,

The charity hosts the annual awards ceremony to recognise volunteers from across the region who give up their time to raise money for Diabetes UK and also improve understanding and awareness of the condition if not managed properly.

Among the winners was Tony Kelly, who lives with Type 2 diabetes. He is passionate about ensuring people from African-Caribbean and South Asian communities are aware of their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests people from these communities are two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those from Caucasian backgrounds.

During 2016 he delivered more than 60 free events ranging from speaking at local community groups, churches and other religious institutions to retirement and care homes. He also carries out media interviews and gives out goodie bags packed with useful information on prevention and managing diabetes.

Another winner was driving instructor Steve Paxton, 46, was one of the early volunteers with the charity’s Care in School Helpline. The helpline gives parents of children with Type 1 information and support to get the right care at their child’s school. He helped more parents than any other volunteer last year.

He is a positive and enthusiastic volunteer who has had a huge impact on the lives of parents and children he has supported. He is an active campaigner for children and families living with the condition, a parent representative on the West Midlands Children and Young Peoples Diabetes network and secretary of the Type 1 Diabetes in Nuneaton and Coventry Group.

It was an absolute honour to meet the Midlands Inspire Awards nominees and winners and join the celebrations for the amazing work our volunteers do.

Suzanne Smith, Diabetes UK Senior Volunteer Lead Midlands and East,

Teenager Lewis Sherwood, who has his own blog page where he talks about growing up with diabetes, never lets the condition affect things he wants to do. He has abseiled down Walsall Arts gallery and organised cabaret events to raise money for Diabetes UK. He was another winner at the event.

He recently joined the Air Force Cadets and has openly discussed what it’s like living with Type 1 diabetes and challenges misunderstandings about the condition by proving he can complete all activities that the other cadets do.

Lewis was also instrumental in getting the law changed regarding discrimination against people with diabetes in education. This followed him being excluded from staying overnight on a residential school trip because of the condition.

Another winner was mother–of-four Julie Southcombe, 55, who was recruited as a patient leader with the charity in July 2015 and through this programme she has worked with a whole range of key NHS organisations to improve care in Shropshire and to demonstrate that patients are part of the solution in better managing the diabetes crisis.

Julie uses her patient leader title to initiate links with the Shropshire Community Trust, where she became an active member on four key committees, working alongside health care professionals.

Due to complications from her diabetes, Julie is partially-sighted and is accompanied on all her journeys by her guide dog Tammy – who has become as well-known in the area as Julie.

And the amazing Lewis family won the fundraising award. Cheryl and Tim Lewis (pictured above with their award) and their son Nathan are passionate about raising funds for research to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Their inspiration is their son Michael, who passed away in 2015 from complications related to his Type 1 diabetes.

The family along with fellow trustees Steven Roberts and Chris Edwards set up the Michael Lewis Foundation to raise funds and awareness of Type 1 diabetes.

In Michael’s memory his family have organised numerous events to raise money including holding a charity gig in Birmingham, golf days, football matches and tough mudders. They raised a phenomenal £25,000 in 2016.

They have raised awareness too of the condition by working with schools, companies and other organisations to share their story.

The Midlands winners will be invited to the national ceremony. They will be joining fellow winners from across the UK and will have a chance to receive a national volunteering award from the charity.

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