Thank you research visit for diabetes fundraisers – by Rachel Mann-Bradbury
(Pictured above, Mike standing, with some of our our fundraisers, from left, Janet Swales, Margaret Jones, and far right, Elaine Downs)
Since I started at Diabetes UK in May 2015 as a Regional Fundraiser for the East Midlands, I’ve met and supported extraordinary community fundraisers from the region, some of whom have dedicated decades to fundraising for Diabetes UK. The hours they volunteer to organise their fundraising events like coffee mornings, the numerous favours they’ve had to call in from their community and the sheer enthusiasm to do it all for little / no personal benefit is quite frankly amazing.
The money they donate from these events is essential to helping Diabetes UK fight the diabetes crisis and look towards a world where diabetes can do no harm.
That is why 3 March 2017 meant so much to me. Several of my amazing community fundraisers had an exclusive laboratory tour of the Diabetes UK funded research project ‘Targeting B Cells Involved in Type 1’ by Dr Michael Christie at The University of Lincoln. It was a chance for not only myself, but for the charity and researchers themselves to say a huge thank you to some of our fantastic East Midlands supporters who’ve raised huge amounts of money annually to Diabetes UK towards our pioneering diabetes research.
After six months of organising the day, I felt so nervous. Thoughts such as I hope they find the venue OK? Did I forget to tell them the day would be filmed? And ultimately will they enjoy it? I set off at 6:30am from my home in Chesterfield, I wanted to make sure I beat the traffic and get to Lincoln on time. I got to the venue slightly early, but that helped calm my nerves!
As I did my staff briefing for the day ahead, I was starkly reminded why it is so important to fund diabetes research. One of our Diabetes UK Local Group Chairs sadly passed away from diabetes related complications recently. As many of the people attending would have known the person in question I asked advice from the team as to how to approach it and support the attendees. From this we came to a decision and I finished my briefing.
At 9:45am our attendees started to arrive from across the East Midlands and it was all smiles, they couldn’t wait to see the laboratory. Everyone took their seats and we were ready to start the day. Emily Burns Diabetes UK Research Communications Manager did the intro for the day. Then it’s was over to Dr Michael Christie who did a whistle stop explanation of his research comparing it to the British Civil War and the battle fought in nearby Newark. This illustration helped us all understand his complex and ground breaking research into Type 1.
After a few questions we split the group into three and rotated round three sessions. I took the first group down to their first session; the lab tour, where we put on our white coats ready to safely take a look around. Dr Christie had kindly set up a couple of experiments for the supporters to have a go at. Richard from Lincoln and Andy from Market Harborough really enjoyed taking part in the activity, saying it was ‘fascinating’ and it made them appreciate painstaking precision it takes to release just one cell using a microscope.
The second session was with my manager Joy Jones. As she has a university degree at biomedical science and has been working with Diabetes UK for seven years Joy was able to help answer a lot of the questions the group had about research and diabetes.
The third and final session was with Dr Matthew Simmons. He explained all about his research into islet transplants, an important treatment option for some people with Type 1 diabetes. Dr Simmons finished his talk with heartfelt thanks to everyone for donating through there events. Whether it was small bake sale in the local church to a big dinner dance, everyone is a hero who dedicates time to raising money to diabetes research.
It was then to the end of the day and my big moment. In my role at Diabetes UK I commonly present in front of people about Diabetes UK’s work, but this felt different. Not because I had a camera staring to me, but it felt what I was about to say was so important. Without our supporters raising and donating money Diabetes UK couldn’t fund the pioneering diabetes research. We must and should appreciate each and every single donation as without them we wouldn’t be making breakthroughs in diabetes care and treatment that has ultimately improved people’s lives. So to them and everyone who has ever donated to Diabetes UK I say two words from the bottom of my heart…’Thank you’
I’d like to thank Emily Burns, Kotryna Temcinaite, Becca Grosvenor and Joy Jones from Diabetes UK for helping make the day happen. I’d also like to thank Dr Michael Christie, Dr Matt Simmons and all the staff at The University of Lincoln for allowing us to look around their fantastic facility.