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Dr Alan Stocks marks 60 years of living with type 1 diabetes

Dr Alan Stocks AM, a giant in the diabetes community, has retired from the Kellion Foundation on the same day he received a Victory Medal to mark living with type 1 diabetes for 60 years.  

 

Prof Turtle Dr Stocks Mr Decker Mr Townend 2019

Dr John Turtle AO, Dr Alan Stocks AM, Dr Neil Decker and Dr John Townend

 

To honour Dr Stocks' outstanding contribution, both as an endocrinologist and the man who got the Kellion Victory Medals off the ground, Kellion Foundation Chair Dr Neill Decker announced the Dr Alan Stocks Kellion Victory Medal Research Program, which will focus research on medal recipients and their unique achievements in living with diabetes for half a century or more.

 

Dr Stocks also became only the fourth person to receive the Diabetes Australia Outstanding Service Award. In the words of Diabetes Queensland's CEO Sturt Eastwood, Dr Stocks has left the diabetes community an enduring legacy.

 

Dr AStocks _DA 2019

Dr Alan Stocks AM is presented the Diabetes Australia Outstanding Service Award by Dr John Townend

 

Dr Stocks grew up in south London, and was a high achieving student studying medicine at King's College Hospital when his life changed.

 

"In 1959, just two days before I was about to qualify as a doctor, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes," said Dr Stocks.

 

Even though he topped England with his surgery results, Dr Stocks soon realised he was being overlooked for surgical placements because of his diabetes.

 

"Being young and brash, I asked the Dean what I would have to do to get a job in surgery. He told me he didn't think I'd cope with a surgical role because of my diabetes.

 

"Two good things came from that. I got posted to St Giles Hospital in Camberwell where I met a young Australian girl, Miriam, doing her final exams in anaesthesia."

 

Dr _Mrs Stocks 2019

Dr Alan Stocks and Mrs Miriam Stocks

 

"I followed Miriam to Australia when she came home to Brisbane in 1961. I proposed to her 12 months later and I'm glad to say we're still very happily married to this day," he said.

 

Soon after arriving in Brisbane, Dr Stocks took up a role at Princess Alexandra Hospital and it was while working there he decided to train as a specialist in diabetes. It was a subject he knew about from both sides of the table.

 

During his career, Dr Stocks has worked with world renowned endocrinologists Professors 'Skip' Martin and John Butterfield, and has been involved in private practice and research, including pioneering studies into diabetes detector dogs.

 

He also conceived introducing a diabetes medal to recognise and commemorate Australians for having survived with diabetes for 50, 60 and 70 years or more. In 1984, Diabetes Australia agreed to his proposal.

 

Dr Stocks asked Claude Kellion, who set up the Kellion Diabetes Foundation to fund research after the premature death of his son because of diabetes complications, if he would lend his name to the awards.

 

The Kellion Victory Medals were born.

 

Dr Stocks received his 60-year medal at a special morning tea hosted by Diabetes Queensland on Sunday 14 July to mark the beginning of National Diabetes Week.

 

The event was made all the more special for Dr Stocks as he was surrounded by a number of Kellion Victory Medal recipients who he had personally helped on their own diabetes journey.

 

Craig Beyers, President of Diabetes Queensland, said, "It is a privilege to acknowledge and celebrate Dr Stocks' personal journey with diabetes and the significant contribution he has made to the diabetes community in Australia.

 

"So many people including other Kellion recipients here today credit Dr Stocks with turning their lives around.

 

"He helped improve the way they manage their diabetes which had a profound and positive impact not only on their lives, but on the lives of their families as well. He truly has made a meaningful difference," Mr Beyers said. 

 

Dr Stocks has been married to Miriam for 56 years. They have two sons and grandchildren. Formerly a lyric tenor with a love for Renaissance and Baroque music, he is also a keen golfer who hits the course at least twice a week.

 

In looking back over his life, Dr Stocks said "One of the best decisions I ever made was jumping on that ship to Brisbane. My life has been overwhelmingly positive in every sense."

 

When it comes to diabetes care and management, Dr Stocks is positive about the future, too.

 

"The wider range of insulins, medications and insulin pumps means treatments are now more effective, with better long-term outcomes compared to when I was diagnosed 60 years ago," he said.

 

Kellion Victory Awards are presented to people who have lived with type 1 diabetes for 50, 60 and 70+ years. The awards recognise what is possible while living with diabetes and celebrate the significance of these milestones.

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