Alec Boothroyd was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1932 at the age of eight.
His family doctor recommended a diabetes specialist practising out of Harley Street. That specialist was Dr RD Lawrence – co-founder of the Diabetic Association, now Diabetes UK - and Alec warmed to him immediately.
After an initial consultation, RD Lawrence referred Alec to King’s College Hospital where Alec remained his patient until the war.Alec said: "RD Lawrence was a practical, sensible and quiet man. I found him to be a warm, special and wonderful person. My parents were very worried about the implications of me having diabetes, but RD Lawrence reassured them and told them to take it all calmly and not to worry."
When Alec and his family moved to Bournemouth, they would travel to London to RD Lawrence’s clinic. In 1937, when Alec was 13, a needle broke off in his thigh while he was injecting his insulin. The local hospital did an x-ray and cut it out of his thigh, then sewed it up. Alec still has the scar.
Alec said:"I remember being upset at the time because my family then went on a holiday to Bude and I couldn’t go swimming because of the wound. Later, RD Lawrence told us that they needn’t have bothered with the surgery and the needle would have worked its way to the surface on its own."
During the war, the Diabetic Association persuaded the Ministry of Food that people with diabetes did not need sugar rations, but should instead have them replaced with extra meat rations which was wonderful for Alec’s family.
In 1941 Alec finished school and went to architecture college. During this time he lived with his cousin’s wife who was pregnant and therefore also received extra rations. Due to his diabetes, Alec received extra meat, butter and margarine rations so when he lived with his cousins they all ate extremely well.
Diabetes UK has kept Alec up-to-date on current ideas. He has seen the advice go through many changes and it seems to be coming back to the same advice as when he was first diagnosed.
Alec said:"I believe that it’s most important to look after diabetes yourself as the condition is so much about self management. I believe that the doctors can help, but at the end of the day you’ve got to do most of the care by yourself."