Getting involved with the #BigCollection by Rachel Fenwick


I was 16 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I had no idea what life as a diabetic was going to be like. I saw a limited life ahead, a life without chocolate, and more worryingly, a life without cheesecake. Needless to say- I was devastated. At 21 now, I’m a world away from those fears. In amongst the shock, during those few days I spent in hospital after my diagnosis, one thing stays with me from what the doctors said and it’s this statement I lead my diabetic life by- “Don’t let the diabetes rule you; you rule the diabetes.”

When I received an email from Diabetes UK reaching out for volunteers at Tesco’s Big Collection– I thought yeah why not? Part of me questioned whether raising money for a condition you have yourself is selfish, but why should I expect others to get involved if I’m not willing to take the plunge myself? Helping to raise funds for Diabetes UK could not only improve my lifestyle, but also the thousands of other young adults, children and parents in need of support dealing with their Type 1 diagnosis too. It’s not a an easy life for a diabetic, and if your reading this as a fellow diabetic then you’ll know that too. The shock and the adjustments in life undertaken are not easy; but with the help and care supported by Diabetes UK life can be made a little easier.

One thing I really hope the money raised during the Big Collection will enhance is the lives of future generations. Reading an article featured on this blog by Richard Holliday I became truly grateful for the efforts already gone into research and the huge advancements in treatment that have already taken place. Richard recalls a time when “a rather large glass syringe that needed to be sterilised every night and included a rather large spear like needle” was used to inject insulin. Those days, luckily, are gone for me. I’m now free to carry around my handy insulin pen with attachable 8mm needles. I’m not saying even now it doesn’t get annoying always having to carry around all your diabetes equipment, meaning I’m always the one with a bag, usually carrying other peoples belongings too, but it’s a whole lot easier than carrying around Richard’s “spear like” needle!

The money raised during the Big Collection Weekend will further even more research into Type 1 diabetes. Because Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease it furthers my desire to help raise funds for Diabetes UK; it’s the future generations of my family, your family and the families of your friends that we are raising money for. It’s amazing to think that the money we raise will go towards finding a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes!

On the weekend of the 4th, 5th and 6th of October, I’ll be volunteering my time along with plenty of others, at one of 600 Tesco stores across the UK. So if you are free that weekend and fancy getting involved in helping to find a Type 1 vaccine, please check out the website, type in your postcode and find the nearest store to you!

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Hi Rachel, good luck with the Big Collection! I’m a Volunteer Co-ordinator and am keen to get people in West London involved at the store I’m responsible for (Tesco Extra, Osterley) so people, please pass the word on and get friends and family to sign up! I also remember the days of glass syringes – the smell of methylated spirits will never leave me – but I am amazed at the changes in advice, information and equipment in the 30+ years I’ve been diabetic and for this reason I am really glad to be able to help out and raise money for Diabetes UK.

Me my son and his Dad are signed up for the weekend, my sons 8 and was diagnosed type 1 in march this year, it’s a heartbreaking moment when diagnosed but you do and can work through it . Good luck to everyone who’s joined and if you haven’t join in its only 3 hours of your time and for a good cause x

I am at my wit’s end with my type 2 diabetes, I was diagnosed almost a year ago and my blood sugar is still not stable, I have passed out three times now and so cannot drive just to add to my frustration!!!! My husband is a nervous wreck, ‘cos, luckily for me, he was with me when I had the seizures. I am waiting for a hospital appointment now to see a neurologist, has anyone got any good advice for me, my blood sugar is either too high or too low!!!

We need more people like you Rachel! I am a Team Leader for the Big Collection Weekend in the North West and I’m currently looking for volunteers like you to help out during the event. I also have Type 1, diagnosed at 23 years old, so I’m sure we have shared similar experiences although no two people with Diabetes can ever say it’s affected them in the same way. Big Collection will be one of 3 fundraisers we are doing for Diabetes UK this year! It’s great to know there are people like you out there giving up your time to help fund research and help future generations too! I salute you! :))))

Am actually a member lost my card & adore the work you do to educate people,am Type I on insulin.