Trust teams up with diabetic duo to raise awareness

6th March 2020

The Southern Trust has teamed up with best friends Beth McDaniel and Ellen Watson to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes.

Beth from Banbridge was diagnosed last September, just nine days after her 12 year old sister. With no previous family history of the condition, the University of Ulster student says it was such a shock for her parents.

Best friend Ellen, also from Banbridge, who lives and studies with Beth in Belfast, was diagnosed at the age of seven. Ellen has grown up with the condition. With the help of her parents and Trust team, she says she has become more confident in managing her diabetes. She estimates injecting herself with insulin around 47, 450 times in her life so far.

Diabetes is an autoimmune condition caused when the body can’t produce the hormone insulin which controls blood glucose (sugar) levels. Unlike Type 2 which is generally influenced by lifestyle, Type 1 cannot be prevented and is the most common type of diabetes in both children and young adults.

Together the girls, both aged 20 now have an active social media following. Known as the ‘Diabetic Duo’ they are keen to dispel the myths and show that you can lead a normal lifestyle with Type 1 diabetes.

Dr Sarinda Millar, Consultant lead for the Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes service in the Southern Trust and Diabetes UK Clinical Champion says: “With over 170 children and young people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in Northern Ireland last year, we want to raise awareness of signs and symptoms to look out for.

“A diagnosis of diabetes can be worrying for young people and their parents, as there is a lot to learn to manage Type 1, like frequent finger pricking throughout the day to check blood glucose levels and injecting insulin or wearing a pump to keep it under control. However as Ellen and Beth show, Type 1 diabetes should never stop anyone doing anything and you can lead a normal lifestyle.”

Beth and Ellen love fashion, going to the gym, are keen cheerleaders and have a great social life. Along with the physical demands of diabetes, they say the emotional impact can be as challenging to cope with which is why they want to reach out and support other young people in a very fun and relatable way.

Both girls are also active members of the Southern Trust T1DCAT (Type 1 Diabetes Children and Teenagers) charity which supports children and young people with Type 1 diabetes and their families.

Dr Millar adds: “There are four key symptoms, known as the four Ts which could be a sign that you may have Type 1 diabetes: going to the toilet more than normal, being really thirsty, tiredness and getting thinner. If you notice any of these you should your doctor as soon as possible as early diagnosis is vital.”

For more information on Type 1 diabetes go to

www.digibete.org www.diabetes.org.uk   https://www.publichealth.hscni.net