A volunteer who is committed to empowering disabled people despite suffering painful health problems himself has scooped this month’s Community Hero Award.
Cancer survivor Ben Fuller, 39, from Lewes, relies on crutches to get around and battles with constant discomfort in his lower back as a result of chemotherapy treatment and injuries from a car accident. As well as nerve damage to his spine, he also has joint trouble and poor balance.
Ben was medically retired from his taxi driver job in 2000 and found that he was falling into depression and lacked purpose.
He joined the Oyster Project, a self-help charity for disabled people in Lewes which aims to develop members’ skills and independence.
Before long, he was managing the Café Oyster Community Café, a lunchtime session on Wednesdays when people are offered cooked food and an opportunity to socialise.
Ben, a former chef, also runs a cooking club for disabled people and volunteers on the Radio Lewes project where he has a weekly rock show with his friend Neil Tideswell.
His dedication to the Oyster Project was praised by Charlene Saunders, Marketing Manager at Welbeing, the specialist provider of independent living services which sponsors the Community Hero Award with the Sussex Express.
The award honours unsung local heroes who help make their community a better place to live.
“Ben is a shining example of someone who overcomes his own challenges to make a wonderful contribution to the community by helping others,” said Charlene.
“The volunteering work he does is fantastic and makes a real difference to people’s lives. He is a very worthy winner of our award.”
On receiving the award, and a complimentary meal for two, Ben said: “Volunteering has given me a sense of satisfaction and I feel that I’m giving back to society.”
To nominate someone for the award, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of who you are nominating and why they deserve it.