JDRF Walk to Cure – Meetups, tweetups & eat-ups

A tale of two cities

Each year JDRF organise Walk to Cure sponsored walks around the globe, with this year’s falling on 13th October for both the South and South-west & Wales regions. Right from day one I was torn as friends of mine (Becky, Helen, Sarah) were going to the event in Netley near Southampton – merely a 10 minute drive from me – and others (Annie, Mark, Chris and more) were going to the one in Bristol – a shade under 2 hours away.
With apologies given to my local friends we signed up for the Bristol Walk to Cure.

“Luke, use the force”

As we neared the university campus where the walk was starting from we saw a couple of Star Wars Stormtroopers. It seemed a bit bizarre but maybe that’s what people do in Bristol each Sunday morning…oh no, hold on, this where we’re meant to be.
*brakes screech to halt*

One hug too far

Walking up to registration and Annie spotted us, greeting us with the customary hug that we’ve become used to when meeting Twitter friends with whom I speak to more regularly than family or local friends. I looked around for Izzy, who I’d been wanting to meet for ages; there she was waiting with another hug for me.
Annie pointed me towards Rufus – JDRF’s 6 foot tall bear – who was walking towards me. “Don’t forget to kick him in the shins” she said as inside the costume was her husband.
The handshake wasn’t working between man and bear so with outstretched arms Rufus demanded a hug. It worried me how pleasingly cuddly Rufus felt but worse how long he held me for, a little too long in my opinion. πŸ™‚

Expected and unexpected meet-ups

Recovering from my bear hug I walked into registration and was recognised by Chris who’s young son Alfie had been part of Gav’s GBR30/30 that Amy and I had been involved with earlier this year.
After, we met Mark – whom we’d met many times – and Danielle who’s on Twitter too.
Before the walkers went through a warm up routine a speech was made by Colin Rowland, whom I last saw at the JDRF Discovery Day in April. Colin and I had spoken a fair bit since April and it was great to see him; I had no idea he’d be there.

Walking to Cure

These walks are short, being aimed clearly at the youngest kids, and we opted for the longer 5km walk.
At this point the rain started. Typical!
Amy was walking in front with Annie’s kids, whilst Jane and I walked round with Colin and his wife, having a great chat about diabetes, Amy, pumps, CGM, the future, running and cycling.
At the half way point we left Colin and waited for Annie/Mark/Izzy/Danielle who never appeared. I suspected they’d employed the old school cross-country cheat tactics of waiting behind a tree somewhere until everyone returned.

Post exercise carbs & protein

As any athlete knows you need to make sure you take care of your body replenishing lost carbs and taking on protein. With this in mind I polished off a huge slice of Annie’s superb chocolate cake and we planned a trip to Nando’s… that’s an okay post-exercise recovery plan right?
Nando’s was great, with 10 of us there, adults at one end, kids at the other and me getting to sit next to the wonderful Izzy and hear all of her future plans.

Today had been brilliant.

Rufus’s finest moment

Just before the walk the walkers were put through a warm-up routine, so I’ll leave you with a video of Rufus’s finest moment:


Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – the final day

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

Sunday, 26th May 2013 – St Agnes to Land’s End

Today’s route was going to be a tough one, at least 35 miles and having a 500ft hill towards the end.
Early on whilst planning this route I tried to convince Gav to start from somewhere further south, maybe Portreath or the Hell’s Mouth Cafe, so as to shorten the distance and make it easier on himself. Gav was having none of my advice and replied to one email with “If I’ve made it that far on the GBR30/30 then nothing will stop me, I will conquer any hills and any distance”…or something like that.
I felt for Matthew (Wood), Gav’s friend who ran with him on day one of the challenge starting at John O’ Groats; I don’t think he knew anything about this; I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about this. I knew Matthew had completed marathons but 35 milers, up big hills. I decided my best policy was to keep quiet about the route as Matthew followed me on Twitter.
Personally, I was never going to start from St Agnes as I was camping down near Leedstown, near Hayle, so I’d always planned to start from me, which meant I’d accompany Gav and Matthew for the last 20 miles.

Gav’s (planned) route, my route and elevation

Gav’s planned route was as follows – I say planned route as Gav decided that he hadn’t seen enough of Great Britain on his travels and decided to take a wrong turn, turning this planned 35 mile day into 40 miles!. I joined them at Hayle, roughly where the green triangle is shown:
GBR30/30 Challenge, Day 30, route map

Feeling guilty, getting nervous

Waking up to a glorious sunny day at the campsite my family and I chilled out around the pool, before I headed of to meet Gav and Mat shortly after lunch. In a way I felt a little guilty about this but in honestly laying by the pool felt great. After doing over 80 miles on my bike so far I, or more to the point my bottom, was glad of the break.
I was starting to feel nervous, a strange feeling that I’d not had on any of the previous days. I knew why: I’m no cyclist or athlete and I really didn’t want to muck up Gav’s big day by being too slow etc.. It was stupid really, I knew it was but I couldn’t do anything about it.

The “Where’s Gav?” Game

Jane drove me and my bike to the meeting point as we’d had no word from Gav. This was no surprise once we found out he was lost. Jane drove me up country lane after country lane trying to find the missing runners but we never did find them, so we went back to the meet point and eventually Gav and Matthew turned up, looking pretty fresh considering they’d already run about 20 miles.

Off we, erm I, go

Setting off from Hayle I felt supremely confident about the route: I didn’t really need a map; I consider this part of Cornwall as like a second home having spent so much time around these parts.
Along the Hayle estuary, onto the A30, off to Penzance, up the hill past Drift and then Land’s End. It couldn’t have been simpler I thought, forgetting that these guys who had already run 20 miles still had 20 to go. I was on a bike and much of it was downhill, so on came the (slight) guilt again.
Whilst much of it was on the A30 the route was generally beautiful, with Kites and Buzzards flying around us, sea alternating from this side to that and back again.

A chance meeting – this is what GBR30/30 is all about

On the A30 we stopped in a lay by for Gav to test his blood glucose. A random Land Rover pulled up and out go two people and walked over to us. It seemed a little strange at first.
“Hi” they said and told us that they’d followed the GBR30/30 information on Facebook and just wanted to come and meet Gav and say hello. They lived in Truro where the female was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes within the last year, aged 29. She was inspired by Gav and his challenge and just wanted to say “hi”. This to me epitomises GBR30/30: to bring awareness to people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes so that they can see that the can achieve great things, they may need to work around/with diabetes but it need not stop them. It was fitting that this encounter happened on the last day of the GBR30/30.

Water, water, give me water, says Gav

The route I’d planned would see Gav running into Penzance around the beautiful bay, in front of the mighty St Michael’s Mount. Things changed though when Gav saw the sea and he decided to go in for a little paddle, to help soothe his legs.
GBR3030 tweet about Gav having a paddle

Gav stands proudly in front of St Michael’s Mount, with 12 miles to go until Land’s End:
Gav in front of St Michael's Mount

So much support

At Penzance we met with everyone else before the final push. Well, I say push as it was nothing, it was still TEN MILES. That’s a distance I couldn’t run in a week, let alone one day where 30 miles had already been run. Knowing how slow I am at going up hills and not wanting to slow Gav/Matthew down I put my bike on the car and got taken to the next meet point and cycled on from there. In my mind the hill was too steep for me but as I drove up it I was truly gutted I didn’t attempt it.

Growing Oceans

Gav powered on towards Land’s End whilst I stayed at the back cycling behind Matthew, who had already run one of his furthest distances ever but still had 5 miles to go. I tried offering some encouragement but stayed away from the “just one more hill” comment as I could never be sure. Gav was on a mission, there was no way we were going to catch him up and I knew at this point that I wouldn’t get to see Gav finish at Land’s End, yet it didn’t matter as Matthew seemed to need my support more than Gav did at the moment.
The oceans grew bigger and bigger as the horizon opened up in front of us. We could see clouds on the horizon, or was it, no, actually, that’s the Isles of Scilly. Wow!

The last push

Safe in the assumption that Gav had already finished, Matthew strode on, passing the first/last pub in England, going through Sennen and finally on the straight towards the Land’s End Visitor Centre.
Gav’s Dad Vince was waiting with the Olympic Torch for Matt to pick up and run with.
Matt strode on, we could hear cheers getting louder and louder pulling Matthew towards the finish line.

Fantastic end

Everyone celebrated together, one big team, those that had done it, those that had supported it, all happy together. Gav looked knackered but elated, drenched in champagne. Now it was time for the photos at the signpost and this seemed to go on forever.
Other kids just there for the day saw the Olympic Torch and had their pictures taken with it; anyone we told about what Gav had just completed was amazed, many saying “ran, did you say ran?” to me; the photo taking went on and on.

Gav’s last day run video

A short video of Gav’s run, with some of the photos at the end

Matthew’s last day run video

Much more footage of Matthew, because I stayed with him for support

And finally…

Gavin and me at Land's End

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Day 29 to Gav, day 1 to Amy, day 3 to me

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

Saturday, 25th May 2013 – Bodmin to St Agnes

Today was my 12 year old daughter Amy’s big day: she’d cycle her longest distance ever (27 miles); meet an inspirational athlete who, like her, has type 1 diabetes; raise lots of money for charity; run with Gavin into St Agnes carrying his Olympic Torch. My wife Jane would also be cycling with us today.

The planned route and elevation

Late the night before I changed the plan slightly so we’d join Gavin about 3 miles in, halfway up a 500ft hill. Why? Well to be honest I’d had enough of hills by this point and I didn’t want Amy’s big day to start with a 500ft hill climb, knackering her out with still 27 miles cycling and a run to the end with the Olympic Torch.

Setting off from Bodmin Jail, or Gaol to ye olde rascals

Gav was going to depart from Bodmin Jail and although we weren’t going to cycle from there we went to see him off on his run, to then join him 3 miles later. When we got there everyone was downstairs in the old jail checking out the cells, we ventured down there too but I knew Amy wouldn’t last long, she hates things like that.
Afterwards it was photo time and Gav had a little issue to sort out before we could start his run:

Our journey begins

Meeting Gav three miles in we parked the car in a country layby and left it there, hoping it would still be there 10 hours later. We were halfway up the hill we were trying to avoid but actually it didn’t seem to bad, probably because yesterday’s gales weren’t there any more, leaving a lovely sunny day for us to enjoy.
After a couple of miles Gav’s sister Kaylie joined him running and Amy warmed to her straight away, cycling next to her for the next few miles.
We passed by a road sign for a town which made me smile, especially whilst on a diabetes-related trip.

Lovely countryside, quite roads

For the next few miles we cycled on cycleways, the Goss Moor trail (where people on horseback rode past) and very quiet roads. The sun was shining down and I only was pleased not to need the fleece+jacket I’d worn on the previous two days.
Amy and Jane were enjoying themselves too.

A great support team

Throughout the day Gavin’s family met us at different points, giving Gav a cheer as he neared them, motivating through the next stretch.

Gav in “Countryside Meltdown Shocker”

On the way to the final checkpoint, Gav laughingly had a bit of a breakdown, longing for tarmac and concrete. Watch it happen:

A cock-up of a finale

day 29, new inn goonhavernWith 6 miles or so to go we stopped at the New Inn at Goonhavern for a quick drink, meeting up with Matthew Wood and his wife Clare – Matthew ran the first day with Gav and was going to run the last too. Gav’s Dad Vince bought me a refreshing pint of shandy and as he passed it to me Gav said “right, I’m off to finish this thing”.
“Erm, ok, Gav, I’d better drink this first.”
Matthew was staying in St Agnes and told have which way to run, but it differed to the plan I’d done previously, but I hatched a plan where he’d go one way and we’d go the other and get in front of him, to be in St Agnes ready for his arrival. Amy would then collect the torch and run with Gav to the end point, the St Agnes Hotel.
If only it had worked out like that!
Leaving twenty minutes later than Gav we sped down the first hill – at 35mph for me: “woohoo…yeah…damn, that hill goes up…and up…oh kak”.
The series of hills kept coming and coming, downhill then uphill and downhill again.
After cycling over 23 miles already the last 4 were killers to our tired legs.
Day 29, Amy with torch at St AgnesThis was broken by calls from Emilia, then Gav, then Vince (Gav’s Dad) then Emilia again; all asking us where we were and when we’d arrive. I had no clue.
Finally, St Agnes neared and Gav met us, gave the Olympic Torch to Amy and ran up the hill with her bike, whilst Jane and I followed, slowly.
Amy was elated, but sadly for Jane and myself we’d missed seeing her finish with the torch.

Day 29, finish group shot

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Day 28 to Gav, day 2 to me

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

Friday, 24th May 013 – Plymouth to Bodmin

Today would see us leave from Home Park, the home of Plymouth Football Club and attempt to make it to Bodmin, over some hills potentially worse than yesterday. At least yesterday’s hills were at the start, today they were all the way through.

The planned route and elevation

Today’s route on flat land was due to be 33.1 miles, or 53.3km in new money.
You can click on the map to show it in Google maps:

Oh my God, my legs hurt

After the longest ride I’d ever done and a couple of pints of (medicinal!) cider later I’d almost fallen asleep in my dinner, but typically didn’t sleep once in bed as my legs were shouting “you idiot, why didn’t you do a bit more cycle training for this!” at me throughout the night.
They didn’t feel any better in the morning.
I compared the elevation plans for yesterday and today, with dread.

Crossing the Tamar

Gav and I set off from Plymouth Argyle FC’s ground, home park and headed towards the Tamar Bridge. As we got nearer it struck me that this was a momentous time as Gavin stepped foot into the last county in Great Britain, leaving him with around 90 miles still left.

It’s pretty but it’s hilly

The countryside around us as we went north turned into rolling hills, often full of ripening rapeseed.

A slight headwind

The hills meant I’d lost Gavin once again as he surged forward as if they were flat. I had no idea how far behind I was but kept on going up the hills hoping to catch him up at some point before the next checkpoint at Quethiock.
The wind was heading directly towards us for most of the day but only became a real problem when out in the open. Here’s a sample of what we faced, see how the wires sway and the speed of the clouds. The shaky camera was caused by the gusts:

Where’s Gav?

I reached Quethiock and found my Dad there waiting with a sandwich for my lunch, but where was Gav? He was way ahead of me, but I’d caned it down any available hills and never caught up with him. He called, he was at Blunts, a village I’d passed through 2.4 miles beforehand. He was lost and had done far too many miles already, but luckily his aunt and sister were with him.

I didn’t quite make it

After Quethiock I pressed on but due to pretty steep hills and an horrendous gusting wind I called it a day at Liskeard, having done only 21 miles. If there’d been no wind I’m sure I would have managed the full distance. I guess I’d only set out to cycle 100 miles with Gav, that’s 25 a day and I’d already covered 57 in two days, but I was disappointed about stopping early.
The route I covered was:

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Day 27 to Gav, day 1 to me

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

The night before…

Dad rang me on the phone to confirm the time he was picking me up in the morning.
“Ok, Kev, I’ll see you at 5am”
“What, 5am! No, later, can we aim to leave here at 6am?”
We settled on him arriving at 5:30am, to leave at 6am on our 3 hour drive to Torquay in Devon, to meet Gav and cycle 30 odd miles next to him. It was going to be a long day.
5:30am obviously stuck in my Dad’s head, as that’s when he left his house, to drive to mine, 45 minutes away.
We were already late.

The route and elevation

Today’s route on flat land was due to be 33.6 miles, or 54.2km in new money.
You can click on the map to show it in Google maps:
GBR3030, Day 27, route map
GBR3030, Day 27, elevation

Plymouth ho!

At Plainmoor, the home of Torquay Football Club, we met Gavin, his sister and his Aunt, took pictures and readied to set off.
I presumed that the hilly route would be quite normal to Gavin, who’d already run through Scotland, the Cotswolds and the Mendips but he next four days turned out to be some of the hilliest routes.
I was dreading it, I hate hills, which is why I’d cleverly (or not!) spent hours changing the route to minimise elevation changes and therefore hill climbs. It only took me a couple of miles to realised all this was in vain and that I should have put it a lot of hill cycle training beforehand; it was too late now.

Did I say that I hate hills?

Just two miles into the route came our first steep hill, a road still within the boundary of Torquay.
I slowed as I cycled and watched as Gav ran on, powering up the hill. Half way up my unfit legs told me to get off the bike and walk.
I was disappointed but as I walked up I looked at the terracing of the houses and realised it was probably the steepest I’d ever attempted to cycle up.
And just at moment Gav’s sister Kaylie caught the moment on camera.
The next 3km were up hill all the way and at this point I lost Gav.
Here I was, meant to be supporting someone who’d already run 780 miles and I couldn’t even keep up. I didn’t catch up with Gavin until we reached the first checkpoint, 5 miles or so in.

Downhill(ish) to Totnes, then up, up, up

Kaylie joined us for the run to Totnes, running alonside her brother for the next 5 miles.
The lack of inclines pleased me and finally I felt like I was doing what I set out to do, thoroughly enjoying cycling through the beautiful countryside.
Totnes approached, where my Dad was waiting with my first pasty of the trip, which on reflection probably wasn’t a good idea.
Out of Totnes the road just went up and up, on a road not suitable for cars, or my bike, at least that’s what it felt like.
Through miles and miles of countryside we went and reached the halfway point at our first pub stop, the Avon Inn at Avonwick. I looked forward to a beer until I looked at the elevation of the road that came next. I ordered a coke.

Climbing and falling

The new few miles were pretty good although it was getting pretty windy and we could see rain in the distance.
Gav had told me he would run at 5mph to conserve energy but at 24 miles in he was caning it at 9mph, as the photo shows.
The road was getting busier, the clouds were getting darker but we pressed towards Plymouth.
Through the pouring rain I cycled into Plymouth and towards the finish line. My odometer told me I’d already clocked 35 miles, the most I’d ever cycled by 10 miles…and that was on the flat.
Gav and I neared the finish line and just before crossing the road I fell off my bike, with my feet still in the clips. My elbow felt like it was broken, I may have sworn a little.
By the time we reached the finish the sky was turning quite blue…as was my arm.

Plymouth. Hi!

Gav ran with the torch to the finish, near the Fish on a Stick and the Mayflower steps.
I was pretty relieved today and its weather and its hills was over.
Day one end, 36 miles done to Plymouth

And finally…

Gav knew the cold water in the harbour would soothe his legs so like our countrymen in 1620 he descended the Mayflower steps in search of salvation.

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Running from John O’Groats to Land’s End

You know most of this already right?

There can’t be many people in the UK who use the internet and have some association with Type 1 Diabetes but haven’t heard about 21 year old Gavin Griffiths’s amazing challenge of running 900 miles between John O’Groats and Land’s End, over 30 days. If you haven’t heard about it then take a look at Gavin’s web site: http://diathlete.org/the-gbr-30-30-challenge/

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

How did we get involved?

I’ve been following Gav’s progress and tweets about the challenge for many months but never thought I’d ever get involved but when the opportunity arose on the 27th December – two days before Amy’s second Di-aversary* – I signed up.

So there it was, we’d cycle next to Gavin for one of the days of his GBR30/30 challenge. It seemed to us like a token effort considering the challenge itself but Gav seemed pleased with the idea.
The next day we were at Amy’s clinic and even the Doctor knew about Gavin and his challenge:

*diaversary – the anniversary of a person being diagnosed with diabetes, turned around to be a positive thing.

Why get involved?

If you’ve read the article about trying to inspire Amy then you’ll have guessed correctly that this was part of the plan. I wanted Amy to meet Gav at least and to see/hear first hand that the life of someone with Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t need to be held back; that she could aspire to have a great life without be ‘stopped’ from doing stuff*; that someone with Type 1 can do stuff that people without it (like me) could never dream of doing. I figured that if this mindset sank in before going through the next tricky teenage years then Amy would be better placed to deal with adolescence.

* ok, I know there’s stuff she just won’t be able to do (join the army, drive for more than a couple of hours without stopping, eat without using an A-grader’s knowledge of GCSE’s mathmatics) but I’m talking in general; about not just sitting there and bemoaning her situation.

Logistics, logistics

I asked Amy if she’d liked to do the cycle and she jumped at the chance, even though the furthest she’d ever cycled was 24 miles the previous summer. I told Jane that I’d need her to provide driving support as we’d be starting in one place and ending somewhere else 30 miles away.
“But I’d like to do it too”
“Damn, I’d better ring my Dad and ask him to drive then”.
Logistics turned out to be the trickiest thing but I came out with a plan, saw it through and it all went well in the end.

Meeting Gav

I met with Gav one Sunday morning – he was late, I think it’s a trait of his πŸ™‚ (Just joking Gav!)
We discussed the challenge, what troubles he was having and somewhere along the line I offered as much support as he needed, especially for the last four days, starting at Torquay and ending at Land’s End.

Soon it became clear to me that I wanted to do more than cycle just one day but the logistics of anything else seemed to difficult, until I threw a couple of ideas my Dad’s way.
Suddenly the agreed plan was hatched, Dad and I would support Gavin from Torquay to Plymouth and Plymouth to Bodmin; Jane, Amy and I would cycle from Bodmin to St Agnes; we’d all be there at the (Land’s) End to cheer him home.
I decided that I was going to cycle some part of all those four days but I kept it quiet, for a while at least.

JDRF Discovery Day (Verwood, Dorset) and Mini Tweetup

My second Discovery Day

Even before we “met” this Discovery Day and I have had a rocky relationship: “she” was the first one I booked but then I ditched her in favour of meeting friends at the Bristol JDRF Discovery Day in April. But she wouldn’t leave me alone, bombing my timelines with information about her, so I relented and booked up to see her with only a few hours to go until her big day.
This article about the Bristol JDRF Discovery Day explains what Discovery Days are about, or you can check out the official information on the JDRF web site.

Stuck for something to wear

I was hoping to meet a local tweep named Amy – let’s call her AmyTwo to avoid confusion with references to my daughter –Β  there,Β  and already knew that recognising a t-shirt is easier than recognising a face from an online avatar, so I put a joke out there on Twitter, mainly for AmyTwo to be able to recognise me.

GBR3030 shirts

I was proud to wear one of Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge t-shirts having cycled 100 miles next to him and knew it would be easy to be recognised in one of them, it turned out to work very well.

Faces to names and all that

At the entrance JDRF’s Louise was there to sign people in. Of course I wasn’t on the list because I was such a late entrant but I said my name and her response was “Oh, hi Kev, I met your lovely wife last week at the JDRF Speakers Training day”. Jane’s signed up to be a speaker on behalf of JDRF, speaking to Rotary Clubs and the like, starting quite soon.
I went into the auditorium, AmyTwo wasn’t there and neither was anyone else I recognised.

Ooh, a new blood glucose meter which we haven’t got

It’s becoming a standard joke that whereever I go I pick up a new meter for my Amy: I got a ContourUSB from the last JDRF Discovery Day; on the GBR3030 I saw Gav’s Glucomen LX meter and ordered a free one of those.
Here I saw a lady demoing a meter by Mendor, one which I’d seen a video of a couple of weeks ago and thought it looked interesting, well boring looking actually but the concept was interesting.
Everything you need, pricker, strip, meter and case are contained in one unit. Here’s a couple of their videos:


The first talks start

First up was JDRF’s Nikki who opened the day, said a bit about the speakers and later as a bit of ‘cheesy fun’ (as she called it) got us to raise our right hand and state “I do solemnly swear, that I will never, just refer to type 1 diabetes, as “diabetes”, and I will always say “type 1 diabetes”‘. It raised a lot of laughs and actually was a very valid point. If we, the people associated with Type 1 Diabetes don’t always quality the type then what chance is there that others, like the press and media, will do the same?

Diabetes Awareness Dogs and Wessex Assisting Dogs

I saw a similar presentation to this in Bristol but for me this one was much better, probably because they actually had two well behaved dogs there. To be fair at Bristol I spent the duration of the presentation mucking around on twitter with the #DOC tweeps, jokingly asking Annie to get Jane a cup of tea and then having a cup being passed along the line – hilarious.
I was amazed to hear how the dogs are trained and just the sort of thing they can do, such as trying to alert their owner of a forthcoming hypo, bringing them hypo supplies and evening pressing alarm buttons should their owner not respond.

Superb presentation by Dr Tim Tree

Dr Tree works at Kings College as part of the D-GAP programme and alongside Cambridge and Bristol.
He’s a pretty smart cookie. But would he be too smart? Would I understand his presentation?
I had these worries as the two PhD holding speakers at Bristol presented very well indeed but it was just a little too technical for me, someone who never studied Biology or Chemistry at school whatsoever.
Dr Tree was brilliant though, aided by a very whizzy presentation which sadly for me was done using a Mac; still I’ll let him off this faux pas.
Dr Tim Tree presentsHe has type 1 diabetes himself, as have relatives of his, but not his siblings and he spoke about them, getting diagnosed and using multiple blood samples of theirs in his research to discover why he got it but they didn’t.
He took us back to 3500 years ago and explained how ancient Egyptians detected the presence of diabetes: they used ants and two samples or urine, one without diabetes and one suspected of having it, if the suspected patient had diabetes all the ants moved to his/her urine sample. Simple. Effective. Sadly it didn’t help as prior to 150 years all diabetics died as no medicine had been discovered.
He brought us forward to the last 5 years and told us all the recent breakthroughs being discovered and the part D-GAP (and Bristol, Cambridge and Kings) play in it.
The presentation was fun as he used pictures of his family and one of his sons who was in the audience helped out too. Much use was made of lego figures and in the end he said “there you are, 5 years of research summed up by 6 lego figures” – the audience laughed.
He made no promises about 100% cures or 100% prevention but ultimately we were left with hope.
He ended well stating “none of this research would have happened if it wasn’t for the money from JDRF” and thanked us for giving it.
If you read this Dr Tree, thank you very much for what was one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen.

Meeting up with AmyTwo

Whilst the talks were going on I spotted AmyTwo, a couple of rows in front of me and at the end I went over to say hello.
“Hi, are you Amy?”
“No, I’m Alice”
Oops. I apologised and sheepishly walked away.
Whilst looking at some of the stands the real AmyTwo spotted me – I’m guessing my t-shirt trick worked once more. I didn’t recognise her at all from her avatar, thank God she found me.
AmyTwo was due to be in Jane’s group at the JDRF Volunteer Speaker training course last week but unfortunately she couldn’t go so we chatted about that for a while until it was time for her to go.

Meeting up with local parents and preaching about pumps

I thought I recognised someone from the carbohydrate counting course the other month, I had, it was another parent, Steve, whose young son has type 1.
Steve told me that they’d only done the carb counting course because they’re looking into pumps and that they just needed to decide between one of the two pumps the hospitals offer (Medtronic and Roche).
“Two? Actually Steve you have more choice than that, Amy’s getting an Animas Vibe in two weeks.”.
I couldn’t help myself extol the benefits of the Animas Vibe, citing waterproofness, the colours, the lack of bluetooth, the CGM potential, the waterproofness (again).
Steve seemed quite interested and asked for my details.
I hope we’ll be in contact soon as it’s important choose the right pump – when they have a choice – and it’s important to know what your choices are.
Steve, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry if I went on a bit about the Animas pump πŸ™‚

Like a red rag to a bull

I only wore the GBR30/30 t-shirt so AmyTwo could recognise me but on the day three people came up to me and asked if I was something to do with Gavin’s challenge.
They were pleased when I said “yes” and they all asked me questions about what I did (cycled 100 miles, last 4 days), how Gavin was during/after his challenge and each one of them ended with something similar to:
“That lad has been an inspiration to me/my-daughter/my-son.”
“You’re right, he is, isn’t he!?”

Chatting with JDRF staff

Just before I left I chatted with JDRF South’s Louise about everything that’s been going on, with our fundraising efforts, Jane’s volunteer speaker role, Amy’s fundraising and forthcoming pump.
She was so pleased with our efforts and kept thanking me but honestly it’s the other way around, if it wasn’t for what JDRF do people wouldn’t do what they do…and then there’d be no hope for a cure for Amy – one and two πŸ™‚

Amy’s JDRF T1Kids magazine article about India

My daughter, an author, wow

Today the latest JDRF T1 Kids magazine hit the doorsteps of houses around the UK, being delivered to thousands of children who have type 1 diabetes.
I’m immensely proud that Amy has a two page article within it and even more proud that a picture I took of her fills the front cover.

Thank you JDRF

I’d like to thank JDRF for many, many things but especially today for printing Amy’s article.
Special thanks go to Kate from JDRF, who has been so helpful organising this from their end, encouraging us, giving us ideas and creating the final article from a mass of words sent to her.
Thank you Kate for giving me permission to reproduce the article on my blog.

How did it all start?

We’ve been subscribed to JDRF’s T1Kids magazine for a while now and have read the articles with interest. In early January, whilst thinking about how to motivate Amy as part of my New Year’s resolution I came across a request for articles for the magazine.
Well, let’s think…hmmm….my newly diagnosed 10 year old backpacked around India, had a great time and survived. Yeah, that’s an article. Actually though I first suggested that JDRF read Amy’s auto-biographical blog article on her diagnosis and only mentioned India as ‘maybe you’d be interested…’.
I pinged off an email to JDRF which got to Kris – whom I’ve only just realised is someone I’ve followed on Twitter for ages. He passed it straight to Kate who’s in charge (I think) of producing the T1Kids magazine. She was very interested in the idea of an article about India as they’ve not had many/any like that before.

From blog article to magazine feature

First I needed Amy to do the full article for our blog as this was to be the final one in a 14 part series about our trip to India and dealing with type 1. It took a long time to get round to this due to other commitments. Here’s a link to the series of articles: Travel in India with diabetes and Amy’s India blog article.
The article was sent to Kate, who then reworked it to fit the magazine style. Amy had written so much that it gave Kate a hard time trying to figure out what to cut.
A few proof checks here and there and on 24th April we received the pre-print version in all it’s glory.
I was amazed how good it looked, all typeset with the paper elephants everywhere.
Amy was so chuffed.

Opportunities through Diabetes

This is a shining example of how opportunities to break out of the box come from having something like diabetes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer that Amy never wrote this article because I’d prefer that she didn’t have diabetes, but she does so let’s just get on with it and seize opportunities like this when they occur.
Well done Amy for seizing this opportunity. So proud.

Do you want to get hold of the magazine?

If you just want to read the article you’ll find it below, but perhaps you want to subscribe to the magazine for you or your child to read.
Here’s the links to do just that and the good news is it’s free, although I’m sure you’ll give JDRF a small donation whilst on their site πŸ™‚
Order a single copy
Subscribe to the magazine

The front cover

T1 Kids Magazine front cover

The main article

The main article is split across two facing pages but I’ve split it so you have a chance to read it.
If you can’t quite read the images on this page either click them to open them up in full within your browser, or better still just use CTRL and + to – to zoom your browser in and out (works with Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer). In some browsers you can hold CTRL down whilst scrolling your mouse’s scroll wheel.
T1 Kids Magazine left page
T1 Kids Magazine right page