Home African Caribbean Where Have I Been…?

Where Have I Been…?

by Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly resident Diabetes expert

Having taken a hiatus from my fortnightly articles for Caribdirect.com since mid-October I am back home in Birmingham since the 9th December to really Arctic weather conditions and recovering from jet lag. Even my short stay in New York on the way home from the Caribbean was not this cold and temperatures are not expected to rise for a further week so missing all that glorious sunshine. I certainly topped up on vitamin D in the Caribbean.

I have been on a diabetes awareness tour of Jamaica and Barbados for nearly two months as November worldwide is Diabetes Awareness Month. Wearing my diabetes ambassador hoodie and T- shirt      on the flight to Jamaica proved a real ice-breaker as passengers on the outward-bound flight engaged with me and took my contact card. One chose to thank me for all the work I do, having noticed the National Health Service (NHS) logo on my apparel.

There would be too many people to thank individually in both Caribbean countries in this article but they all know who they are and without their support I would not have been able to achieve so much. I am eternally gratefully to them. I want to specially thank two people in England wishing to remain anonymous who generously donated financial support towards this trip proving that there are some kind people around.

Prior to my arrival in the Caribbean, Diabetes UK, the well-known charity gave me diabetes literature which I posted before-hand through JLB Shipping based in West Bromwich, West Midlands. These were well received by the participants with an understanding that they could also visit www.diabetes.org.uk for further information instead of logging on to false/fake/phony websites.

Both countries, like most of the other Caribbean islands have a major problem in terms of the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, plus those who are on the borderline of getting this medical condition, let alone the many who have never had a health-check to find out their actual status. It was a pleasure going to communities in seven of the 14 Jamaican parishes where residents turned out to engage with me as a Diabetes Ambassador living with type 2 diabetes for nineteen years and never having taken medication.

I was interviewed in Jamaica and Barbados on many television and radio stations which helped to spread the health and well-being message and increase attendance at events.  All my presentations started with my usual health disclaimer of not being a health care professional in order to set the scene followed by sharing with participants my lived reality or real-life experience.

To be presented with tokens of appreciation in some communities which now adorn our mantlepiece at home was a lovely gesture. Those will help me to treasure the memories of reaching out to others who were keen to learn more about diabetes and how to manage, control or indeed prevent it with a combination of physical activity and a well-balanced diet.

Although British born I grew up in Jamaica so it was good to be back in a country which I regard as my second home, renewing acquaintances amongst family and friends.

My first trip to Barbados was equally effective where Dr. Diane Brathwaite, Clinical Director of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation put together a varied programme of activities. Participants embraced the message of taking on a healthier lifestyle especially in terms of their eating and drinking habits.

During and after the busy schedule of engagements I had time to visit Farley Hill National Park, Speightstown, Welshman Hall Gully (put in on your bucket list) Oistins Fish Festival, Bridgetown the capital, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus and spent time relaxing at the Rostrevor hotel in the tourist area of St. Lawrence Gap. I also took the opportunity to swim in the turquoise blue water of the Caribbean Sea on the beautiful Barbados beaches.

I am so pleased to be able to dispel the often-heard myth of Barbados being a flat country as that is certainly not the case having visited some hilly areas with the most spectacular panoramic views that Mother Nature has bestowed on the island.

As we approach the end of 2022, my next article will be after the yuletide holidays.  So, may I therefore take the opportunity to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


You may also like


Stephen Bentley January 27, 2023 - 6:12 am

Great stories

Anne Devrell January 2, 2023 - 3:32 pm

Thanks Tony!! you’re doing a terrific job… keep going!!

derin December 30, 2022 - 10:53 pm

Diabetes Facts:
You don’t know what the word Diabetes Means
Diabetes and it’s related complications is one of the biggest industries on the planet
Big Pharma needs you be Diabetic
Diabetes is decimating the Black race
diabetes is curable in 4 weeks
There are several types of Diabetes
Unresolved Diabetes will shorten your life
Diabetes is behind most Alzhiemers and mental decline
Diabetic complications will destroy your sex life
Diabetic medication will destroy everything else.

Dr Kevin Brown December 20, 2022 - 3:00 pm

Well done Tony! You have been a Diabetes campaigner for many years in the UK and it’s great to see you promoting Diabetes awareness in Jamaica and Barbados. Keep up the good work.

Dr. Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts December 16, 2022 - 3:51 am

Tony you make a significant contribution as a diabetes ambassador. Having worked alongside you in Dominica, I know the passion and easy to understand language you bring to your presentations . Most importantly, you talk from your experience as a diabetic who “practice what you preach”. Congratulations!

Jacqueline Robinson December 15, 2022 - 10:14 am

Many Congratulations for all your hard work as an ambassador for diabetes awareness here in England and further afield in the Caribbean.

Carmen Barton December 15, 2022 - 4:53 am

A very igood & nteresting read. . I feel I was being transported to Barbadosee. . . Sorry I missed you on theBay Jamaica leg of your trip. . Hope to catch up withu next time Tony.
Seasons Greetings to you. . Continued success for 2023

Bev Boothe December 15, 2022 - 12:06 am

I learnt a lot from your session and was happy to see you. Hlad you are back home safely


Leave a Comment

Copyright © 2024 CaribDirect.com | CaribDirect Multi-Media Ltd | CHOSEN CHARITY Caribbean New Frontier Foundation (CNFF) Charity #1131481

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy