Congratulations to George Harvey, who volunteers for Healthwatch as an Authorised Enter and View Representative, for taking home the ‘Dad of the Year’ award at an event held by the Derby Telegraph. The awards event ‘Community Champions: A humbling night honouring the amazing unsung heroes of Derbyshire’ was the first night out George and his wife Brenda have had for four years.
George who retired at the age of 58, has since been spending his time working with carers groups, as well as caring for his family. Now 82 he cares for his son David, 50, who was born severely disabled and who needs care around the clock. Sometimes, he only gets two hours’ sleep.
His wife Brenda, whom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is also cared for by George, said: “I was so proud of George when he went up to get his award. It’s been years and years since we’ve had a night out so it’s made it more special for us.”
George said: “It all really started when our David was born. Very little was done then for people with learning difficulties – there wasn’t education for children really.”
Chesterfield born George moved to Long Eaton in 1978 where he managed a day service for adults with learning difficulties. Since retiring at the age of 58 he has spent his time working with carers groups, as well as caring for his family.
George said: “I make breakfast for us, then I go out for visits for Healthwatch. I go to care homes and see how they’re organised. Our David is severely disabled, he can’t talk and needs help with daily life. He communicates with body language, and he goes to a day centre during the day”.
In 2012, George set up The Learning Disability Carers Group, and in 2013 the group launched a national helpline. He was nominated for the award by Pam Gill, who works with George in the carers group that he chairs.
Pam, from Melbourne, said: “George is a devoted and able carer, who holds imaginative and realistic ideas about how the lives of people with learning difficulties and their families can be improved. He gives talks to carers about his caring role and how systems could better meet the needs of carers and those they care for, to live more fulfilled lives and he does this with such passion.”
“George is the original ‘expert by experience’, and is highly regarded among the city and county adult care managers.”