‘Fixing Dad’, the film, will be screened on BBC 2 on Sunday 24th at 10pm. It tells the incredible story of Geoff Whitington, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 12 years ago at the age of 52.Earlier this month ‘Fixing Dad’ were guests of honour at our Inspire Awards where we were celebrating the amazing work of our volunteers. Geoff Whitington and his son Anthony joined us at the ceremony in London and told the audience about their journey from despair to renewed hope.
Now Geoff’s truly inspiring story will be shared with millions in a film made by his sons, being shown this weekend on BBC2. They called the film and the whole project ‘Fixing Dad’.
At the end of 2013 Geoff Whitington, weighed over 19 stone. He was resigned to a premature death from a catalogue of health conditions.Geoff’s doctor had even started discussing with him the possibility of foot amputation due to his Type 2 diabetes. The arch of his left foot had already collapsed as a result of Charcot’s foot. This is where the foot becomes deformed and misshapen due to severe neuropathy caused by Type 2 diabetes.
"Dad was preparing to die"
To add to this Geoff had very high blood pressure and cholesterol and, in the words of his family: “Dad was getting his affairs in order. He was preparing to die.”It was at this point that his sons, Anthony and Ian, decided they needed to put their own lives on hold while they embarked on a mission to restore their dad's health and enjoyment of life. They set about ‘Fixing Dad’ by helping him embrace a healthy diet and introducing him to lots of different sports and challenges.The brothers say their motivation came from Geoff himself because over the years he had made sacrifices to ensure they never went without. Now they felt it was their turn to give something back and give him the support he desperately needed.
The brothers decided to record Geoff’s physical and emotional journey
The brothers, who are both documentary film makers, decided to record Geoff’s physical and emotional journey.They soon discovered that there were no quick fixes and it was going to take a monumental effort to get their father in the best health of his life.Anthony says: “We had to battle with decades of engrained and destructive habits and negativity, locked in place with almost superhuman stubbornness! We were having to overhaul every single aspect of our dad’s lifestyle. But we were determined - we wanted to get our childhood hero back.”Geoff’s days of scoffing junk food and indulging in heavy drinking were replaced by salads, cycling, camping and sky-diving!Anthony and Ian filmed their dad over a year. The film documents their struggle to transform their dad from an obese, barely mobile night-time security guard to a fighting fit endurance cyclist, public speaker and health activist.Gradually Geoff became determined to inspire and improve the health of others as well as his own.Ian says: “Our film shows that those we love make us strong and that a life we love is worth fighting for. We hope our film will inspire people to turn their lives around and help others to get their loved ones back on the right track.”A highlight from the film is Geoff and his sons and step-son completing the Ride 100 for Diabetes UK, an epic cycling challenge made even more extreme by the deluge of Hurricane Bertha. They raised over £2,300 for Diabetes UK.
Geoff is continuing to pursue a healthy lifestyle
Now 64, Geoff is continuing to pursue a healthy lifestyle, continues to enjoy his cycling and motivating others to follow his lead. Under his GPs advice he is no longer taking diabetes medication at the moment and is currently able to control his condition through diet and exercise. Douglas Twenefour, Deputy Head of Care, at Diabetes UK, said: “Geoff’s story is really inspiring and also highlights the importance of getting help. If you have Type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition the most important thing you can do is ask for support. You might want to enlist family into helping you make changes to your lifestyle but equally you might want to join a local diabetes support group or a slimming club or walking club – or all three! The good news is you don’t have to run a marathon or cycle 100 miles. Even by making small changes to your diet and exercise you can significantly improve your health.”