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Diabetes UK celebrates its 80th birthday

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Diabetes UK is today (Friday, January 10) celebrating its 80th birthday.

It is exactly 80 years since the writer H.G. Wells and the doctor R.D. Lawrence, who both had diabetes, founded the charity to provide support for people with the condition.

One of our main aims in our early days was to ensure everyone with diabetes who needed insulin was able to access it for free, and today we continue to campaign for better healthcare for people with diabetes and to fund more research to better understand the condition.

We will be celebrating our anniversary with a series of events throughout the year, taking the chance to reflect on the progress that has been made since 1934 and to consider how we will continue to help improve the lives of people with the condition or at high risk of developing it.

Celebrating amazing achievements

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "During our 80th year, we will be celebrating the amazing things that have been achieved since H.G. Wells and R.D. Lawrence decided that people with diabetes needed a charity to represent them.

"Since then, Diabetes UK's research has made a real difference to people's lives in a whole host of ways. In 1964, research funded by us formed the basis of a test that is still used today to identify kidney failure earlier than was previously possible. The first ever insulin pen in 1983, which many people who need insulin prefer using, was launched after a trial that we funded. Equally, we have consistently campaigned for access to the kind of quality healthcare that can give people with diabetes the best possible chance of a long and healthy life.

Reflecting on how far we have yet to go

"But as well as looking back at how far we have come over the last 80 years, this milestone is a chance to reflect on how far we have yet to go. For all the progress made, people with diabetes struggle to get access to quality healthcare, still face discrimination, and ultimately still have a lower life expectancy than the rest of the population.

"This is why those of us who now hold the baton handed down by H.G. Wells and R.D. Lawrence all those years ago will be redoubling our efforts to ensure that the work we do helps to bring this situation to an end. This is because, while the outlook for an individual person with diabetes is hugely better than it was back in 1934, the huge rise in the number of people with the condition means diabetes is now a bigger issue – and a bigger threat to the nation's health – than ever before."

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