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Oxfordshire Woman awarded our medal for living with diabetes for 50 years

A local woman with Type 1 diabetes has received a medal for living with the condition for over five decades.


Julie Robbins, 60, from Banbury, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged six, but a healthy diet, exercise, and taking good care of herself has ensured she has managed her condition successfully for 50 years. The award was given by Diabetes UK in recognition of Julie’s courage and perseverance in handling the condition.

A medal for living with Type 1 for over five decades

People with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it’s not to do with being overweight and it isn’t currently preventable. It’s the most common type of diabetes in children and young adults, starting suddenly and getting worse quickly. Type 1 diabetes is treated by daily insulin doses – taken either by injections or via an insulin pump.

Julie, an admin worker in Oxford, said: “I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1963 and have been injecting insulin every day since. I was six and had been losing weight – to the point that I was the same size as my three year-old brother so we knew something was wrong. It was a shock to the family when the doctors gave us the news. No one really knew anything much about the condition at the time but we all just got on with it.

I haven't let it define me

“Living with diabetes for 50 years has been hard with many challenges along the way. It takes perseverance but, I haven’t let it define me or stop me from leading a full and healthy life. Managing the condition well is the key. So much has changed for the better in terms of treatment. In those days, we had urine testing strips which weren’t very reliable but that’s all we had to test our blood sugar levels. It’s a lot easier now with blood glucose meters and insulin pumps. Technology is moving very fast and I’m sure in another ten years there will be yet more advances in the care and treatment of diabetes.  My advice to anyone newly diagnosed with Type 1 is to exercise, eat well and make sure that people around you, at work and at home, are aware of your condition.”

Jill Steaton, Regional Head at Diabetes UK South East, said: “Julie is an inspiration, and has really shown how taking control of your diabetes can lead to a long and healthy life. Diabetes is a serious and complex condition. Poorly managed it can lead to devastating but avoidable complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke. Too many people suffer these complications unnecessarily. With the right care throughout their lives people can manage the condition well and reduce the risk of developing complications.”

The Alan Nabarro medal

The Alan Nabarro medal is awarded to people who have lived with diabetes for 50 years. Alan Nabarro waged a lifelong battle against discrimination against people with diabetes. In 1968 he was awarded the OBE for his work with young people in London.  

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