Stoke Newington restaurateur father becomes Dementia Friend at 101
- Credit: Choudhury family
The father of a Stoke Newington restaurant owner has become the world’s oldest Dementia Friend.
Sprightly 101-year-old Dabirul Choudhury, whose son Atique Choudhury owns the Hackney Thai restaurant Yum Yum, has become a Dementia Friend to help raise public awareness that people with the condition can continue living in the community.
The East End pensioner from Bow takes over the mantle from the late Max Levitas, veteran of the Battle of Cable Street who was 100 when he took the title.
Dabirul was made an OBE for charitable service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year at the age of 100, after he had completed almost 1,000 laps of his 240ft-long garden at his home in Bow while fasting for Ramadan.
He raised £420,000 with the challenge, giving £300,000 to relief charities in 52 countries and £116,000 to the NHS.
“I’m still fit and healthy and able to help people,” Dabirul assured. “This is a blessing.
“I’ve learned interesting information about dementia to help others and will wear my badge with pride.”
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Dementia Friends visit people with the condition and also take part in open information sessions to inspire others to help.
Dabirul’s nephew Emdad said: “He is a community juggernaut who took part in an information session asking questions and genuinely taking a keen interest. He wants to use his knowledge to make a difference — he’s full of energy and quite simply a phenomenon.”
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The centenarian is well known from his public recitals in halls and libraries before the pandemic, including readings of Shakespeare and poetry he performed at the Bow Idea Store in Roman Road near his home.
Dabirul is an avid poet himself, having penned around 2,000 works, and can make them up on the spot if requested.
He took over the role of world’s oldest Dementia Friend from former Tower Hamlets councillor Max Levitas who died in 2018 aged 103. Max was an ardent campaigner who took part in the 1936 Battle of Cable Street, when East Enders joined forces and prevented Mosley’s Blackshirt fascists marching through Whitechapel.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Friends’ programme aims to change people’s perceptions and transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.