Melanie Stephenson-Gray, 32, a sprinter, who represented Wales and was a torch bearer at the 2012 Olympic Games, has been appointed as a Trustee to the Board of Diabetes UK.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 13, Melanie has been an ambassador and supporter of diabetes charities for more than a decade. She has played a major role as an advocate and organiser of projects for children living with type 1 diabetes and their families.
In 2013, Melanie set up the Blue Circle Diabetes peer support group in Cardiff, recognising the importance of improving mental health support for young people with type 1 diabetes.
Although still involved in athletics, she retrained as a dietician and now works at NHS Wales, specialising in diabetes and weight management.
Melanie said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been appointed to the role of Trustee for Diabetes UK. It’s a huge privilege to be involved in supporting the charity in this way and representing the interests of people affected by diabetes. Since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes myself in 2001, volunteering and giving back over the last decade has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I look forward to continuing with this within the role.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute my experience as an international athlete, global patient advocate and diabetes dietitian to the appointment and am particularly passionate about supporting those at risk and those impacted by diabetes by working to tackle health inequalities, promote access to technology and education and to highlight the importance of early diagnosis and mental health support when living with the condition.”
Sir Peter Dixon is Chair of Trustees at Diabetes UK. He said:
“On behalf of the Trustees of Diabetes UK, I am delighted to welcome Melanie Stephenson-Gray to the Board. Melanie brings with her a wealth of lived and professional experience, and a clear, demonstrated passion for tackling health inequalities and promoting diabetes education.
“Her vast and varied experience will be an immediate and welcome asset to the Board; I look forward enormously to working alongside her, supporting Diabetes UK in achieving its ambitious goals in 2021 and beyond.”
Chris Askew OBE is Chief Executive at Diabetes UK. He said:
“Everyone at Diabetes UK is thrilled to welcome Melanie Stephenson-Gray to the Diabetes UK Board of Trustees. Melanie has been a supporter and advocate of our work for many years, and it is right and appropriate that she will now take such an important role in guiding our organisation’s work in the years to come.
“It has been a very different year for our charity, but we have the benefit of very strong and dedicated Board who have supported us as we’ve navigated the challenges of the pandemic. I look forward to working with Melanie in her new role, as she and the Board continue to guide us in achieving our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm.”
Diabetes UK Cymru’s National Director, Dai Williams said: “I met Mel when she was a student in Newport, not long after I started at Diabetes UK, 13 years ago. Over the years we came into contact a lot and as a 200m Sprinter in the Wales Athletics Team I asked her if she would carry the Olympic torch for DUK Cymru in 2012 - little did I know that she’d be on the BBC News lighting the cauldron at Cardiff Castle. But then Mel has never done things by half measure. As a dietician, she provides invaluable support to people with type 2 and prediabetes. I am privileged to see Mel be appointed as the Wales Trustee and look forward to continue on our journey fighting for everyone in the diabetes community”.
Early this year, Mel presented the Elizabeth Evans Hughes medal at Diabetes UK Cymru’s “Children and Type 1 Diabetes Day” event at the Senedd. She created lockdown exercise plans to share on social media, fundraised for the 1 Million Step Challenge and was a speaker at the Type 1 and Tech Conference on World Diabetes Day.