JDRF Discovery Day (Bristol, 27th April 2013) and #DOC Tweetup

What’s a Discovery Day?

A JDRF Discovery Day is an event which is organised by JDRF for its supporters to learn about research currently going on, about reasons why people get type 1 diabetes, about other interesting areas to do with type 1 diabetes.
Parents and kids are welcome to listen to the presentations or the kids are welcome to attend activities being held outside the room and run by volunteers, making it easy for parents to listen undisturbed.
If you follow JDRF in any way you’ll find out about these Discovery Days but all the information is on their web site here: http://www.jdrf.org.uk/research/research-events.

Booking this event

I first booked a Discovery Day being held later on this year in Dorset, it was the nearest one to me and we’d never been to one before.
I put a tweet out asking if anyone else was going to the same event; no-one was, but a couple of people were going to one in Bristol. Bristol isn’t that far away, sub two hours, and I wanted to meet these two people so I changed plans and booked for Bristol.
Before I knew it more and more people had registered to go to Bristol, there was likely to be quite a few of us.
The most amazing news arrived that Derek and family were going to come too, a 5 or so hour drive down.

The day draws near

A couple of others had registered too and in total 60 families had registered for the event.
The #DOC’s own party organiser Annie booked a table for several of us (Paul, Polly, Mark, Sarah, Derek & co, Annie & co, me & co, plus a couple of other local families) to eat at the buffet place Cosmo in town afterwards.
It was going to be quite a day.
The night before I changed my avatar to a picture of the t-shirt I was going to wear and put a tweet out to come and say hello if you recognised it/me.

An early start

Up at 6:30am and out the door and on the road by 7:40am meant we arrived spot on time at 9:30am in Bristol and headed for the venue, @Bristol, a cool science centre. We registered and looked around to see if I could recognise anyone; I didn’t. Oh dear, how were we going to meet up?
I was just getting a coffee and Derek tapped me on the shoulder, thank God for that, at least there’s a few of us.
A quick chat and I went to retrieve my coat and got recognised – the t-shirt avatar was working – by Chris and we had a great chat about the GBR3030 John O’Groats to Land’s End run that Gavin Griffiths was starting at that exact moment.
Others turned up, Annie & crew, Paul, Mark and Polly but where was Sarah?
Another tweeter Louise came over to say hello to me too.
This was already turning out to be a great day and the event hadn’t even started.
But where was Sarah?
Jane and I sat down, with Derek’s family next to us, and Annie’s family next.

The talks begin

First up was a great talk about JDRF by one of the organisers Danielle, who spoke eloquently about the charity and the work they do.
Next up was a JDRF research Doctor named Maebh. She spoke well about the avenues JDRF research is taking, what’s happening now, what’ll be happening soon. When it came to questions people fired research questions at her and understandably she answered well, then a few people asked JDRF questions and still she knew the answers. I was very impressed with her knowledge, given her tender years.
Next up was a research scientist from a lab in Bristol. She spoke very well about what is causing the surge in type one diabetes and demonstrated an excellent knowledge of what research is going on around the world. Admittedly I got a little lost with some of the words but it all seemed to make sense and I left after this demo and the previous one with hope that at some point the cause would be isolated and prevention of it could be researched properly.

Having a bit of fun

During the next presentation I checked my tweets and saw that others had been tweeting; I couldn’t help but join in.
I saw Annie’s tweet about her location:

I couldn’t help being a little cheeky:

Moments later I felt the row of chairs move and saw Annie get up and walk towards the tea trolley, Derek saw her too, we both started laughing quietly, leaving Jane wondering what was going on.
A minute later and a nice hot cup of tea was being passed hand by hand along the line, to a very pleased Jane. Thanks Annie.

My favourite presentation

The highlight of the presentations for me was given by someone diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1966, Colin Rowland. This was no death-by-powerpoint, it was a heartfelt chat with a very interested audience.
Colin spoke about technology; about how when diagnosed his mum was constantly boiling his glass syringe with its huge needle; about how the first ‘technology’ he ever had was his Palmer Injector; about how today’s improvements make him think that in reality the artificial/bionic pancreas isn’t far away. To us ‘far’ might mean the year after next, to Colin it’s a greater number but one that will arrive.
Whatever technology we’ve got now, or in the next couple of years it beats the Palmer Injector he showed us.
Read more about Colin on his facebook page.

Time for lunch

After it was all over we headed to the all-you-can-eat buffet place Cosmo. We were quite late after seeing the delights of Bristol time and time again and we circled the one way streets.
Lunch was good and I was lucky enough to be sat within chatting distance of Polly and Paul and the next hour or so flew by faster than one of Paul’s Wednesday night tweetchats. I feel Paul may have bitten off more than he could chew when asking me about my interest in India. I know I’m an India-bore but I just can’t help it; give me a platform and I’ll talk about it for hours.
I felt a little guilty as I tucked into whatever I wanted to eat without a care in the world about carb-counting or bolusing as Amy and Jane were sat on another table.
After lunch we had a good chat and Annie gave me a demo of the Animas Vibe and associated kit, more on that in the next post.

What a great day

Today was excellent, I really enjoyed myself, I learnt loads of stuff and came away from the presentations with far more hope than I entered with. If you’ve never been to one, book one up now, it’s really worth it.
The #DOC people there today were a great bunch, a bunch I am pleased to be considered a part of.

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