Chrissie Holmes, 62, from Starbeck has been awarded the Alan Nabarro medal by Diabetes UK for living with diabetes for 50 years.
Chrissie was only 12 years old when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Having been unwell and lost a lot of weight her parents didn’t know what was wrong. It was only when a family friend recognised some of the symptoms - loss of weight, thirst, tiredness - that Chrissie was taken to her GP and her mum insisted she was tested for diabetes.
Having struggled with her diabetes at times throughout her life, Chrissie tells how her knowledge of the condition has improved over the years, how this helped her manage her condition more effectively and led to her setting up the Diabetes UK Harrogate group to help others with the condition.
“My diabetes management improved as I learned a lot more about the condition. I was taught how to count carbohydrates in order to understand how much insulin I needed, moved from urine tests to the more convenient glucose testing strips and in the 1980’s the first insulin pens became available, which made injecting insulin a lot easier and more discreet.
“When I was first diagnosed in 1967, there were very few diabetes support groups in the UK and so I just muddled on in my own way. Being able to talk to other people with diabetes and have that shared experience is so important. Not only has the group helped me through an important time in my life, I’ve made new friends and we’ve been able to offer support and raise awareness of the condition in the Harrogate area.”
The group are raising funds for Diabetes UK and are eager to support research to improve the lives of people living with diabetes.
Emily Honey, Regional Fundraiser for Diabetes UK said: “Chrissie’s hard work and dedication to supporting people with diabetes is inspiring. I’m honoured to present her with the Alan Nabarro medal.
“Alan Nabarro waged a lifelong battle against discrimination against people with diabetes and through her work with setting up the local group and sharing her experiences, Chrissie has shown that with the right care and support people with diabetes can go on to live long, healthy lives.”
Chrissie added: “Almost everyone has heard of diabetes these days. There are support groups in most towns and cities and education course available to help people with diabetes to manage their condition.
“Care and treatment for diabetes has improved so much since I was diagnosed 50 years ago. Diabetes UK fund vital research into diabetes so I hope that in our own way, as a group, we can help change the lives of people living with diabetes in the future.”
“And as for myself, I know that with careful planning, regular blood tests and a healthy lifestyle there is no reason why I shouldn’t go on to live a long and active life.”
If you would like to get involved with the Harrogate group or want more information email:firstname.lastname@example.org
(Chrissie is pictured above right, receiving her award from Diabetes UK Regional Fundraiser Emily Honey).