On a bitterly cold morning with heavy snow across most parts of the country, the walk took place successfully at 13 BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs and Centres around the UK.
More than 3,000 walkers braved the challenging weather conditions across London, Ashton, Birmingham, Coventry, Havant, Milton Keynes, Leicester, Loughborough, Luton, Nottingham, Preston, Southend-on-Sea and Wellingborough.
BAPS had appointed Diabetes UK as their Charity of the Year at the start of 2008 and will be donating a percentage of the monies collected from this walk to the charity.
The opening ceremony in London began with a traditional prayer meeting at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden after which Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, (pictured, right) addressed the audience and joined the walkers.
Other invited guests at the opening ceremony included Dawn Butler MP (for Brent South), Barry Gardiner MP (for Brent North) and the Mayor of Brent, Councillor Harshad Patel.
Celebrity chef Manju Mahli, was present at the BAPS event. Manju appears on TV food programmes such as BBC’swith Antony Worral Thompson and she was on the guest cookery slot on BBC2's.
Raising awareness of diabetes in the South Asian community
As many as 20 per cent of the South Asian population have diabetes, in contrast to approximately 5 per cent of the general population. 300 people in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes every day – 60 of these are from the South Asian community.
Diabetes is a serious and deadly condition – it is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness, and amputation – yet if diagnosed early and treated accordingly, the risk of developing a complication can be decreased dramatically.
Making a difference to lives
Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK said: "Diabetes UK is here for all people with diabetes. We hope our work with the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan community will develop into a long-term partnership. Our aim is for our services to be accessed by many people in these communities and make a real difference to their lives."
Dr Mayank Shah, spokesperson for BAPS said: “BAPS has been involved in diabetes screening for a number of years and this partnership will allow both organisations to promote diabetes awareness and education to a larger section of the Asian and wider community. We were delighted that so many people attended the walk and supported BAPS and Diabetes UK."