A patient champion from Norwich is encouraging others to come forward to help people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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Dave Rea, 62, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1998 and became a patient champion for the Norfolk Diabetes Network (NIDM) in 2004. A year later he helped form the Norfolk Diabetes Patient Supporters group with like-minded volunteers.

During his time as a patient champion, Mr Rea has helped hundreds of patients by offering non-medical support or advice to patients and their relatives living with diabetes. He also acts as a patient representative, speaking at GP surgeries and other organisations on what it is like living with diabetes.

Mr Rea, who runs a conservatory company, admits he knew very little about diabetes when he was diagnosed.

He said: “It came as a complete shock but I’ve learned there’s a lot I can do to help myself by watching my diet and making changes to my lifestyle. As a patient champion for people with type 2 my role is to offer support and represent the interests of people living with the condition.”

Prof Mike Sampson, diabetes consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “We all think Dave has done a fantastic job being the patients champion for those with type 2 diabetes, and we are now looking to recruit another diabetes patient champion with type 1 diabetes. We also need to recruit a number of additional patient supporters who live with type 2 diabetes. All the posts are run on an unpaid voluntary basis with full training and support for each role provided, giving those involved an opportunity to help others with the benefit of their experience of living with the condition.”

If you are interested in getting involved as a patient champion, or would like to find out more about the central Norfolk Diabetes Patient Supporters group, call Angela Young on 0800 0320 087.

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