Lisburn Diabetes Hero

87. Kathryn Cooney (Lisburn)

Kathryn Cooney, from Lisburn in Northern Ireland, has spent hundreds of hours reaching out to parents of children living with Type 1 diabetes over Facebook and e-mail.

Over late nights, she has helped parents come to terms with the impact the condition has on lives and offered them support, advice and hope.

Kathryn’s daughter Sarah became critically ill with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, almost dying as her blood glucose rose to life threatening levels. This inspired Kathryn to begin volunteering for Diabetes UK where she is now a Service Champion. She has been instrumental in setting up a new Facebook support group, and also arranges to meet families as often as needed, when they need support. In 2012 Kathryn was successful in helping to reduce waiting times in some Health Trusts for children needing insulin pumps to fewer than 6 months. The pumps remove the need for children to inject insulin through syringes, usually four times a day, for the rest of their lives.

Kathryn sits on local care user panels, providing important perspective on how diabetes care can improve. She organises family days away for people affected by diabetes where they are able to meet others facing the same challenges and can offer each other informal advice, tips and emotional support.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Having a child diagnosed with Diabetes can be heart-breaking. Parents naturally have lots of questions and can feel uncertain and alone. Kathryn has been instrumental in working with parents online and in person to show them that it is possible to live well with diabetes. She is an amazing pillar of the community and a real inspiration. I am pleased to give this UK Point of Light to Kathryn in recognition of her remarkable achievements.”

Kathryn said:

“I am thrilled to have received the Point of Light award for doing something I feel so passionately about. I think it is so important that families get together to share experiences of living with Type 1 diabetes helping parents, children with type 1 and their siblings feel supported”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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