All the clichés of pastures new literally apply here, as Dai leaves the wilderness of the Welsh countryside near Abergavenny to start a new life in France.
Dai joined Diabetes UK in 2008 and thew himself into the role, tirelessly campaigning for people living with diabetes in Wales. His own experience with his son, Sam, diagnosed with type 1 aged 13, has informed his work and the way he connected with parents and others needing support and advice on how to manage the condition and access services.
Dai said: “The issue is all too familiar for kids living with diabetes and their families. Sam was diagnosed late, the GP missed it, even with him being so ill and skeletal.
“It came to a point, where we were so worried that we took him to hospital where he was diagnosed and stayed for three days. An extra day without treatment and we would have lost him.”
An executive producer at BBC Wales before he took the job at Diabetes UK, Dai studied biochemistry at University of London. He met his teacher and artist wife Anna at university while she was studying French.
At the BBC, he got interested in nutrition, ageing, long-term conditions, Welsh history and the environment, which he covered in a series of documentaries, including a landmark series with correspondent John Humphreys on post-war Wales, which covered the Aberfan mine disaster.
“I am of the same generation and grew up a few miles from there in Merthyr Tydfil, so it was very personal. And it all started with a conversation with a grave digger. Back then, I already felt strongly about empathetic and sensitive storytelling, particularly using video.”
Dai then worked with the US artist Shimon Attie, who also has type 1, on a programme on memory and place in Aberfan to mark the 40th anniversary of the disaster before applying to Diabetes UK.
“I never thought I would stay this long at Diabetes UK, as I had tried to retire before, because of my MS playing up, but I found it impossible. I was new to the third sector, but the team we developed in Wales and the connection with our supporters and volunteers kept me going. I felt people didn’t understand diabetes and I wanted to push for more change and action.” Dai
“Dai is a force of nature, fiercely loyal and dedicated to the team, and is always the first one to join races, swimming in freezing waters, being fished out of lake Bala or other activities to support our fundraising. His message was that people with diabetes and other conditions can do sports and live a full life.” Joseph Cuff, Regional Fundraising Officer, who has worked at Diabetes UK for 25 years.
When the Covid-19 pandemic started, Dai relocated to his son’s old room and became a familiar fixture in zoom meetings with his unconventional t-shirts and his menagerie (three dogs and a cat) making guest appearances in video calls.
In retirement, Dai will be able to indulge his eccletic interests in jazz, pickled tongue (a Welsh delicacy), art, ancient history, science and anything that tickles his curiosity.
The team will miss Dai’s sense of humour, enthusiasm, wide range of interests and unorthodox approach.