A Bridgnorth mother-of-four, who works tirelessly to improve diabetes care for people in her local area, has won a national volunteering award from Diabetes UK.
Julie Southcombe, 55, (pictured above with Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew and singer Apache Indian) who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 38 years, was presented with the UK Inspire Award for Campaigning and Influencing at a special ceremony in Birmingham on 5 July, featuring a performance from reggae artist Apache Indian, famous for his top five hit Boom Shack-A-Lak.
Julie was recruited as a patient leader with the charity two years ago and through the innovative programme she has worked with a whole range of key NHS organisations to improve care in Shropshire and to demonstrate that patients are part of the solution when it comes to managing diabetes.
Due to complications from her diabetes, Julie is registered as severely sight impaired (blind) and is accompanied on all her journeys by her guide dog Tammy.
Among the raft of amazing work Julie does for the charity, she manages to use her patient leader title to initiate links with the Shropshire Community Trust – where she is now an active member on four key committees, working alongside health care professionals.
"It is a real privilege to be associated with such an amazing group of volunteers. We are all so passionate about making a difference for people living with diabetes. I do not want any more patients to receive the poor or inconsistent level of care I have had for my diabetes or to die because of missed diagnosis opportunities. My goal is – a world where diabetes can do no harm."
The UK Inspire Awards recognise the invaluable contribution of the volunteers and groups that go above and beyond for people with diabetes. An independent panel chooses the finalists and winners in the six award categories from hundreds of nominations from communities across the country.
Peter Shorrick, Diabetes UK Regional Midlands Head, compered the awards ceremony and said: “Every year, across the UK, thousands of people give their time to help provide support, fundraise for pioneering research and raise awareness of diabetes.
"The Inspire Awards offer the chance to recognise and celebrate their efforts. I can’t thank Julie enough for her contribution to our work and the positive difference she has made to the lives of people living with diabetes in the local community.”
Apache Indian, who is celebrating his 25th year in the music industry, jetted in from New York to perform at the awards.
He said: "It was great to be part of such of an inspirational event in my home town of Birmingham. As a parent of a son [21 year old Rajan] with Type 1 diabetes, and having met some volunteers who have gone the extra mile for Diabetes UK, it has made me want to continue my work with the charity.
"It was a privilege to perform here and meet everyone."