James, 44, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was aged 12 and also has the condition Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which is a muscle wasting condition that means he has to wear calipers on his legs.
James, second from left, with gym instructor Daniel standing on his right
Having spent 60 per cent of his time in a wheel chair after surgery, James noticed that he had started to put on weight and his blood pressure and cholesterol had also gone up.
James was engaged to be married at the time, and was determined to walk down the aisle unaided. He spoke to his consultant podiatrist, who suggested trying a gym.
"It's important to make the most of the people that you know and approach the people you wouldn't normally expect to say yes. You get a lot of nos but also, a lot of yeses – some of them surprising!"
He signed up to his local gym where he met his gym instructor, Daniel, who assessed what he was able to do. He later found out that Daniel also had Type 1 diabetes and the two men supported each other by offering tips on how to manage their condition while they were exercising.
James started rowing three times a week and gradually picked up his times. He also started walking up and down the gym and walked down the aisle unaided when he married his wife Ann later that year.
James and Daniel both decided that they wanted to give something back to the charity they have found has helped them learn more about their condition and stay healthy. The idea of a five-mile row grew out of their weekly training sessions.
James told us, "There was no one I could look up to when I was first diagnosed. Diabetes UK have been great in supporting me and making it easy to connect with people who have similar experiences."
So far, James and Daniel have managed to raise £1,600 for Diabetes UK. James said, "It's important to make the most of the people that you know and approach the people you wouldn't normally expect to say yes. You get a lot of nos but also, a lot of yeses – some of them surprising!"