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Tamworth woman’s difficult journey with diabetes is inspiration behind show garden

One woman’s traumatic struggle with Type 1 diabetes has inspired her step-mother to design a show garden to raise understanding of the condition.


Emma Tatlow, 24, now a trainee dental nurse, has faced a number of challenges managing the condition over the last five years, experiencing both physical and emotional issues.

Garden designer Karen Tatlow, Emma’s step-mother, who lives in Lichfield, witnessed the daily struggles Emma has overcome in order to move forward with her life. The designer is working with fellow designer Katherine Hathaway and Diabetes UK to create a show garden which will feature at this year’s prestigious RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May. 

Emma, pictured with Karen, said: “I’m really excited about the garden and hope that the message behind it reaches people and increases their understanding of the condition.

“It’s been a long and difficult journey to get to where I am now. I tried to carry on as I had planned in life and went to university just months after my diagnosis, but I struggled to cope and ended up having to abandon my studies and come home.

“I got a job, but severe anxiety and nerve pain in my legs were contributing to a serious lack of sleep and I found myself in a really dark place.

“I had a lot of support from my boyfriend, family and workplace, but it took a lot of intensive work and sessions with a diabetes psychologist to help me get to where I am now. I also found the Diabetes UK forum a good place for advice and sharing experiences.

“I’m in a good place now, having a routine and ensuring I eat well and exercise regularly has helped my physical and mental health.”

Karen said: “I think unless you have seen someone battle with diabetes first-hand, you will find it hard to understand what a difficult, frustrating and at times all-consuming condition it is to manage.  

“Emma has been on a rollercoaster of a journey, which at times has been very difficult for her and also for all of us who care about her. You need to be on top of it every single day. There is no day off, but the right support, care and education can really help.

 “One of the key messages behind the garden is the emotional and physical journey made from diagnosis through to managing the condition well. This is shown via a dark, more difficult pathway that leads through to an easier, brighter pathway, with a seating area for rest and quiet reflection.

“We are really delighted to be working with Diabetes UK to shine a light on this incredibly important issue by exploring the emotional impact of the condition as well as the physical side.”

Visit RHS Malvern Spring Festival for details

Photo credit: Jenny Lilly Photography

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