ANDREW Suggett is generous with his time.
The Warrnambool man has been named the 2018 recipient of the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for his contribution to the community.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000, Mr Suggett was awarded the prestigious title for his work as the Warrnambool Parkinson’s Peer Support Group Coordinator.
The Sir Zelman Cowen Award is the group’s highest honour presented to individuals for their outstanding service to people living with the disease.
Mr Suggett received the award at Parkinson’s Victoria AGM held in Melbourne.
Surrounded by his family he said the recognition was very humbling.
“I am thrilled,” he said. “It’s absolutely wonderful. I feel very honoured and very proud.”
Mr Suggett held the first support group meeting in Warrnambool in 2000.
While he admits it was a confronting experience he persevered because he was passionate about creating a “safe place where people could come along and enjoy each other’s company”.
“I do what I can, while I can,” he said. “It is really satisfying helping someone. But I also do it for my own satisfaction. The support and friendships it has provided me is absolutely terrific.”
Seven weeks ago Mr Suggett was flown to Geelong Hospital after suffering a heart attack.
After having a stent inserted he returned to the golf course within 10 days.
He is committed to exercise, medication, chiropractic care and positive thinking.
I do what I can, while I canAndrew Suggett
The talented artist also expresses himself through his paintings, hosting an annual Parkinson’s fundraising exhibition at Lake Pertobe each January.
As well as the creation of the city’s first Parkinson’s Mens Shed, Mr Suggett also hosts a Warrnambool Walk in the Park to raise funds for research into the disease.
All this after being told by doctors 17 years ago that he wouldn’t be walking past 2005.
Parkinson’s Victoria CEO Emma Collin said it was Mr Suggett’s resilience that defined him.
“There is no doubt that people living with Parkinson’s in Warrnambool and in the south-west district of Victoria are better off because of Andrew and the Warrnambool Peer Support Group,” she said.
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