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Volunteers come together to celebrate a successful year in Northern Ireland

Working together and taking action is what we did on Saturday 1 April at our Volunteer Conference in Northern Ireland. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, 50 of our volunteers came together to celebrate another year of their continuous hard work raising awareness and campaigning for Diabetes UK.

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Dr David Chaney opened the day, highlighting the achievements in Northern Ireland over the past year, focusing on the Strategic framework and where we are striving to go as a nation. 

Graham Galvin, Director of Corporate Services followed, giving an informed update to the volunteers of how we as charity can help to tackle the diabetes crisis and highlighted the work volunteers can do to help prevent those at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

After hearing how volunteers can help to tackle the diabetes crisis, they split up into their workshops, ‘Making Change Happen’, ‘Type 1 services’ and ‘Local Groups Matter’ where they shared innovative ideas and took part in informal discussions.

The volunteers enjoyed a networking lunch before Adrian Fletcher, Former part-time lecturer at Ulster University ran an exciting and educating cookery demonstration using Diabetes UK recipes. Volunteers were encouraged to take part, learning new tips and skills and even got to try out the finished products of hearty minestrone soup, chicken caesar salad and a delicious bruschetta!

Full and satisfied, the volunteers heard from Director of Research, Elizabeth Robertson, who spoke about the ongoing diabetes research in Northern Ireland in particular, where she spoke about the work of Dr Helping Xu, Dr Yasser Abdel-Wahab and Dr Aine McKillop.

Elizabeth Robertson introduced, Emma Berry, a final year PHD student at the School of Psychology, at Queens University. Emma spoke about her research in developing an intervention to reduce the emotional distress in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Volunteer Jackie Boyd said.

Emma Berry’s presentation was one of the highlights, she put into words some of the things I struggle with in relation to diabetes, it was as if she opened the window and let the light in.

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To finish the afternoon we welcomed along our inspirational speaker and football manager Alan Kernaghan. Alan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1989 and has gone on to have an extremely successful career both on and off the pitch. To name a few, Alan played for Middlesbrough, Charlton, Man City and the Republic of Ireland before taking up a coaching position at Glasgow Rangers which marked the start of his coaching career going on to coach the Northern Ireland Team who later went on to the 2016 Euro’s. 

Alan was delighted to finish the afternoon with us by presenting our wonderful volunteers with their Inspire Awards, recognising those who have gone above and beyond for Diabetes UK Northern Ireland. 

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