Four patients at Aintree were awarded Alan Nabarro medals after collectively living with Type 1 Diabetes for more than 200 years.
The medal is given to people who have managed the condition for 50 years and is presented by the charity Diabetes UK. It is named after Alan Nabarro, who waged a life-long battle against discrimination of people with diabetes. Following his diagnosis in 1922 he was given just six months to live, but due to the discovery of insulin went on to live for a further 55 years.
Joan Edwards, 79, from Gillmoss, Jill Whittaker, 50, from Aintree, Janet Jones, 56, from Southport, and Gillian Kinsella, 54, from Bootle, all have Type 1 diabetes.
Jill, who was diagnosed in 1968, said: “I have had diabetes since I was six months old - it was a real struggle growing up with the condition. I once got into trouble at school when my teacher discovered I had hidden biscuits behind a classroom radiator. I was always short of energy and needed the sugar boost, but the other children and my teacher didn’t fully understand what I was going through.”
Gillian has had diabetes since the age of four and explained how attitudes towards the condition have dramatically changed. She said: “At the age of 15 I met with a Career Advisor and told them I would like to become a Physiotherapist. The advisor rubbished my career interest and told me to expect rejection because of my diabetes - I was incredibly upset. There was a lot of discrimination towards people with diabetes many years ago but thank goodness that has changed. My family and the staff at Aintree have been the perfect comfort blanket and helped me control my condition, not let it control me.”
Catherine Whitmore, Diabetes Specialist Nurse, said: “All four of our medalists are proof that, with the right management, you can live a full and active life with diabetes. They are an inspiration to anyone struggling to overcome the impact of a diabetes diagnosis. The perception of the condition has changed dramatically from when our medalists were first diagnosed and I would like to congratulate them all on their achievement.”
The group were presented with their medals at a celebratory lunch held in Aintree’s Diabetes Centre, which was attended by their family and friends.