The Lambeth Carer of the Year Award has gone to Efren Dimatulac, from West Norwood, for the care he provides to his best friend John Doyle, his close friend for 30 years.
When John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease last year and had to give up work Efren selflessly moved in with John to provide 24 hour care for him, giving physical and emotional support.
Efren works tirelessly to make sure the house is clean and cooks all of John’s meals, making sure John can still get out and enjoy the activities he used to love before the diagnosis. These include trips to art galleries and museums.
Efren and John, both aged 63, became friends while working in the catering industry and john is godfather to Efren’s children, who are now adults.
Councillor Lorna Campbell, Lambeth Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, commented “carers are our unsung heroes, dedicated and committed people who rarely get the recognition or thanks from society that they deserve.
“The Awards go some little way towards registering our appreciation for all that they do.”
Silpa Winfield from Centre 70 advice centre, who nominated Efren for the award, said: “Efren is a very gentle and modest man, he is always smiling when I visit them. Although he has his own grown-up family and responsibilities when Efren heard about his friend’s diagnosis he didn’t want John to be alone and now devotes his time to his friend. I am impressed at the way these men have coped with such a dramatic change to their lives.”
The award was presented at an emotional ceremony when Lambeth Council and NHS Lambeth hosted the 2009 Lambeth Carer of the Year Awards at the Imperial War Museum.
The Award aims to recognise the vital role of unpaid carers in the borough. Attendees heard the selfless stories of those individuals who often sacrifice their own life, health and opportunities in order to care for a member of their family or friend.
The Lambeth Carer of the Year Awards is delivered as part of the partnership Carer’s strategy, which has seen an increase in the number and quality of services including the recent launch of the new Carer’s Hub provided by a consortium of three local charities South Thames Crossroads, Age Concern and Disability Advice Services Lambeth.
The new strategy provides extra support, carer’s forums, events, advocacy, communication channels where carers can share experiences and access to a wide range of services such as the short breaks scheme offering a well-earned break for carers.
For more information on services for carers or to nominate a carer for the 2010 Lambeth Carer of the Year visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/carers or call 020 7926 5555