Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

Diabetes Ambassador/Activist with the NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board

London born Tony Kelly was raised in Jamaica and returned to England in 1979 living in Birmingham with his family ever since. As a Mico Teachers’ College graduate he taught English & Religious Education in Kingston high schools. He was the 1976 final year batch president. Tony worked in local & central government for 30 years before early retirement as a middle manager of equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. Among his many qualifications is a socio-legal studies master’s degree from University of Birmingham.

For nearly 8 years from June 2012 Tony was a Diabetes UK Community Champion devoting his time raising awareness in communities in Britain and further afield about health and well-being in relation to diabetes, in his case a hereditary medical condition. He is proud to have controlled his type 2 diabetes with physical activity & diet since diagnosis 18 years ago and has never taken medication, thus proving it can be done with the right mind-set, discipline and motivation.

Six years ago, Dr Richard Mendelsohn, the medical director for NHS Birmingham & Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, now Integrated Care System (ICS) witnessed Tony asking some probing questions at a South Asian Health Foundation diabetes conference and during the break invited him to join the National Diabetes Prevention Programme steering group which he chairs. He accepted from then and since 2020 is the organisation’s Diabetes Strategic Patient Partner and is also an ambassador/advocate in the wider community.

Tony is in demand for radio/television/webinar interviews about type 2 diabetes and runs free workshops. He is featured in healthy lifestyle videos with some on the internet, emphasising his positive approach in managing/controlling his diabetes. June 2018 Tony was interviewed live on BBC 2 TV to an audience of millions, at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital for the 70th anniversary celebration of the National Health Service.

July 2018 Tony delivered diabetes sessions in Dominica with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Trust, raising awareness in particular of preventable sight loss from diabetes which is rampant there and in Belize, St. Lucia and Jamaica. He not only had a platform on two occasions at the three-day diabetes symposium but was interviewed on three radio stations as well as visited many communities to engage with them on health lifestyle initiatives. In June 2019 he visited Canada to raise awareness of this medical condition.

Tony was filmed in London in 2022 for a prostate cancer/enlargement awareness video aimed at engaging with men who often struggle to discuss their medical issues/conditions:

The Birmingham University Sports and Leisure Centre where Tony has been an active member for the past five years featured him in 2022 on billboards across the city as well as a promotional podcast on their website highlighting his healthy approach in order to encourage and enable others to do likewise. This involved filming him doing physical activity in both the gym and swimming pool.

Tony is a patient expert by experience with three West Midland universities as a Patient & Public Involvement (PPI) representative. He was one of two public members of the Scientific Advisory Board, UK - Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) led by Birmingham University’s Professor Paul Moss, OBE and was on another Professor Moss led health group National Core Studies Immunity (NCSi). He was also a member of a COVID-19 research project led by Dr Ian Maidment, Aston University on community pharmacy literature review. He is a co-author of The impact of patient and public involvement on COVID-19 immunology research experiences from the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium recently published online in the journal Research Involvement and Engagement.

He averages 140 diabetes community engagements per year in Britain and in 2019 did a staggering 195.

Tony wrote a monthly article for the free Phoenix Black newspaper for three years and now writes bi-monthly since January 2022 covering a range of topics for an online publication He was the secretary of the West Midlands Jamaican Diaspora UK for four years until March of 2022. Tony was headhunted by Dr Mo Shaikh in 2020 to be a member of the Clinical Research Network - West Midlands Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (Public) Research Champions Group for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

For the past four years Tony has been one of the judges for the annual Patient Experience Network National Awards (PENNA) after he was put forward in order to make the panel of judges more diverse and representative of the wider community.

Tony is acknowledged for his contribution in the 2022 ground-breaking Birmingham and Lewisham African and Caribbean Health Inequalities Review (BLACHIR) as well as in The African Cultural Group, Our Voices on Our Health, A Report on Women’s Focus Group Discussions, April 2023.

He is featured as one of 500 people in The Windrush Legacy Publication: Jamaicans in Britain – A Legacy of Leadership launched in 2022, the brainchild of the then Jamaica High Commissioner His Excellency Seth George Ramocan.

Pro-social modelling is Tony’s motto as without fail he has the winter flu vaccination every year and had all the COVID-19 vaccinations and booster.

Tony, editor of The Domino Effect, Play Domino, Talk Prostate, Save Lives book by Joan Blaney, CBE, Hon.DEd, Pamela Campbell- Morris, project initiator & Leicester University targeting the Black community. The podcast has over 3000 You Tube hits since its July 2020 launch. He hosts Birmingham’s Break Tru TV ‘Our Health Is Our Wealth’ show interviewing Black healthcare professionals & community activists on health-related topics following an initial podcast in June 2020 with over 2400 hits.

a) Bodiwell a series of children’s books by Joan Blaney, covering a range of childhood illnesses.
b) Swimming Pigs - Susan Haynes-Elcock of the Bahamas.
c) Taking it to the Max, Maxie Hayles’ autobiography, a Birmingham
civil rights activist.
d) From Garrison to Garden, Boots on the Ground – Untold stories from the Inner City, Kingston, Jamaica - Moira Morgan.
e) Rejection, Resistance & Resurrection –Speaking out on racism in the Church of England - Dr Mukti Barton, including a chapter written by him.

Winner of the following awards:
1. 2015 Diabetes UK Regional Campaigning & Raising Awareness Award.
2. 2017 Diabetes UK Regional Reaching Out and Connecting Award.
3. 2017 Association of Jamaican Nationals Seven Heroes Award - contribution to the development of the Jamaican community & other nationals in Britain.
4. 2017 Bexlive Award Community Champion: Celebrating People of Colour.
5. 2017 Community Foundation: Community Inspiration Award, Health and Well-Being Award. Top 3 finalist.
6. 2019 Award - Nation of Islam’s Sisters of Empowerment, Honouring, Remembering &Valuing Our Brothers with love as a diabetes ambassador.
7. 2019 Vision2Reality Elders Award Health & Wellbeing Community Champion.
8. 2020 NHS Parliamentary Award: regional winner in a new category Health Equalities Award nominated by Steve McCabe MP.
9. 2021 British Citizen Award for health – BCAh
10. 2021 Mico Teachers’ College 185th commemorative medal for services to the Jamaican Diaspora.
11. 2022 Black Honours Award – Lifetime Achievement for raising awareness of diabetes.

Tony at his own expense delivered free diabetes awareness sessions in Jamaica for 12 days in 7 parishes during November Diabetes Awareness Month 2022 followed by Barbados where he was the guest of Dr, Diane Brathwaite, clinical director of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation. Both countries were keen to have him after witnessing his passion on webinars during the 2020 – 2021 lockdown.

There are at least 20 pages of information about Tony on the internet.

Contact details. or 0121 6860440.

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