A Bexhill resident, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1954, has received a medal in recognition of his sixty years using insulin.
Ron Steer, 74, who is currently writing his memoirs about his life and diabetes, was presented with the DH Lawrence medal from Diabetes UK President Richard Lane during the charity’s local support group Diabetes Awareness Day.
Ron said discovering he had Type 1 diabetes as a teenager was a life-changing experience but hasn’t stopped him living life to the full. “It is not a tragedy or catastrophe. It is only a burden if you make it so. As a fourteen year old I lost 19½ pounds, that’s 8.8 kilos, in two months between Christmas and the time I was admitted into the Middlesex Hospital on 24th February 1954.
“I remember it all very clearly except for that first night that I spent in a coma. They gave me a wonderful education about the condition, taught me to play squash and told me not to let it stop me doing anything.
“In February two years later, at 16 years and three months old, I won the over sixteen school cross country race, competing against up to nineteen year olds. Completing the four mile course in twenty three minutes and five seconds.
“Diabetes does not make you an invalid. My mother made a lot of use of the Diabetes UK getting help and advice.”
Type 1 diabetes is a condition that means people cannot produce insulin and Ron said good control is essential. “I test my blood glucose four times a day as a minimum. But, with a few precautions there is no reason why you should not enjoy life enormously.”
Ron does not have good eye sight but supports the Hastings and Rother Diabetes UK group as a volunteer. He travels by bus from Bexhill to local events and speaks of his work with the World Health Organisation and tells interesting facts about his research.
Lucy Shea, Volunteer Development Officer for the South East region, said: “To hear a story such as Ron’s is quite inspirational, and gives real hope for the future. He is a great asset in helping us raise awareness of the condition and supporting local people living with diabetes.”