Diabetes UK medal for Islington NHS campaigner

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A resident of Islington was awarded the Robert Lawrence Medal by Diabetes UK for 60 years of life on insulin.

Jan Pollock, a 71-year-old former history teacher, was first diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10 and has relied on insulin to stay healthy for six decades.

According to a study by Diabetes UK, around 1 in 15 people in the UK currently have diabetes.

This means they can’t make enough hormone insulin to regulate the way their bodies use and store fat and glucose, often requiring daily injections of insulin.

The Robert Lawrence Medal, awarded by Diabetes UK for living with diabetes for over 60 years

The Robert Lawrence Medal, awarded by Diabetes UK for living with diabetes for over 60 years
– Credit: Polly Hancock

After her diagnosis, Ms. Pollock spent a lot of time at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where she was given insulin for the first time.

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“I loved the hospital and all the nurses,” she said. “All the doctors came around my bed and applauded me after my first injection. I thought I was the bee’s knees.

“There weren’t many of us kids with diabetes, so I thought I had to be wonderful with all the nurses who applaud me and treat me as kindly as they do. For my first specialist, I was his first diabetic to go to university and he absolutely loved it. ”

Her close involvement with the NHS led her to join the Islington Community Health Council in 1984. Since then she has been an activist for her local union and health care.

Jan Pollock with her Robert Lawrence Medal, awarded by Diabetes UK for living with diabetes for over 60 years

Jan Pollock with her Robert Lawrence Medal, awarded by Diabetes UK for living with diabetes for over 60 years
– Credit: Polly Hancock

Speaking of her campaigning, she said: “People don’t know how much privatization is going on inside the NHS. If you are an insulin dependent diabetic you cannot afford not to get NHS support. It enabled me to continue teaching and lead a fit and healthy life. ”

The medal is named after Dr. Robert Lawrence, the UK’s first known diabetes doctor and co-founder of Diabetes UK.

While Jan found out about her award during the initial ban, she was unable to receive the medal until the Diabetes UK team returned to their offices.

“I hope this medal will encourage other diabetics to take care of themselves. I’ve lived a healthy life with my diabetes and I want other diabetics to feel like they can, too, “she said.