I am 68 married and have many autoimmune conditions of which Type 1 Diabetes is one. I am 1 of 3 family members with the condition which prompted my interest in all things medical! I developed Diabetes at the unusual age of 38, lucky me! Diabetes Care Line was my 1st port of call (after my brother) their leaflets and continued support was invaluable. I am a keen traveller and love visiting unusual places especially in South Africa and Asia. Closer to home in Sunderland I’m a supporter of The National Trust and enjoy visiting properties and gardens in the UK gardening is another of my passions.
I have done a considerable amount of volunteering for Diabetes UK,including developing local groups, and eventually becoming a Trustee. I have spoken to many groups and soon became the go to member of the public when a volunteer was needed, be it to appear on This Morning with Richard and Judy, Look North and many radio interviews. My main passion was in Education as at the time there was a particular need to help newly diagnosed as well as previously diagnosed when leaflets supplied locally were basic. I was a patient representative on the Diabetes Network which involved the development of new guidelines to be used in Primary Care. I was a Lay Assessor for the PCT for 7 years. Fortunately Education has improved dramatically and although still involved with my local PCT I felt the need to use my time in a different way. I have been working with Sunderland University in particular Pharmacy students talking about living with Diabetes and some of the problems we have from time to time. Following on from this I became involved over 5 years ago with the Newcastle Dental Hospital in the development of research funding and ultimately the research which was actually linked to gum disease of people with Diabetes. This group named the Oral and Health PCPI has maintained contact throughout the past 18 months using Zoom, ultimately our small group is now developing within Newcastle Clinical Research Facility.
Research has developed rapidly in the treatment of many conditions but until cures or prevention are found Research is the answer. I have always been one to ask questions and the development of new Research requires a lot of questions before it is reaches the final stage which can be a considerable length of time. Clinical trials follow and they are an essential part of future improvements of new treatments, and ultimately prevention and cures. the Covid pandemic has proved how important clinical trials are. Many years ago I was enrolled by BioBank and they have recently requested me to do some tests relating to antibodies after I had my 1st Covid vaccine. During the past 6 years of being involved in Research I have felt valued and appreciated which gives me the positivity to do more. However you can do as little or as much to fit in with your lifestyle and let your involvement be linked to your developing confidence. It is very fulfilling and I’ve enjoyed all my “work” as a volunteer for the past 30 years and have no intention of stopping any time soon. It helps to keep my brain active as well as meeting new people who then become friends with whom you can bounce ideas back and forth. Expenses are always offered for transport costs and out of pocket expenses.
Finally I would like to say on a personal note that for me I am helping to give back to the NHS for the amazing treatment and costly medication I continue to receive.