Sam Stafford and his mum Katy last talked to The Link about his newly diagnosed diabetes back in 1999 when he was three. Now a confident 13 year old, Sam is an advocate for youngsters with the disease and has visited the House of Commons to ask for more support in schools.
Sam wrote to Michael Wills MP as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of difficulties faced by diabetic children in school. In his letter he explained that whilst his teachers at Bradon Forest School understand his condition, a recent survey showed that many children are not allowed to eat snacks in school which are needed to keep blood sugar levels constant and some are excluded from school trips.
“I was impressed by Mr Wills,” said Sam after a trip to the House of Commons with his dad. “He was very concerned that schools don’t recognise what children diagnosed with diabetes have to go through. He sent my letter to the Minister for Education and Swindon Council asking them to make sure they are trying their hardest with diabetic children.”
Mr Wills took Sam and his dad to the Commons tea room where Sam enjoyed a hot chocolate after demonstrating a finger prick test and an injection. “I like talking to people so I’m not afraid of telling them about my diabetes,” he said.
Sam has had to have injections three times a day since shortly after he was diagnosed. Regulating his condition has become even more complicated after he developed Coeliac disease. This means he is unable to eat biscuits, bread or oats which provide slow release carbohydrates and help to balance his blood sugar.
His mum, Katy, said Sam has had to become very organised. “Every day is like planning a military operation so that he leaves home with prepared food and his injection kit. It means Sam has to miss longer school trips if the right food is not available.
“I’ve always said diabetes should not be hidden which is why we did The Link story in 1999. Diabetic children are in grave danger if their schools don’t help them. Those diagnosed when they’re older can find it very difficult coming to terms with diabetes and schools need to know how to support them, both practically and emotionally.”
Since we featured Sam in 1999 he’s become a very confident, well organised boy who is a member of Swindon Young Actors, loves art and music and also PE at Bradon Forest.
Diabetes UK president to speak of ‘cure’
The Swindon group of Diabetes UK holds its annual general meeting on Tuesday 3 February, 7.30pm, at the Broadgreen Centre, Salisbury Street.
The guest speaker is Richard Lane OBE, President of Diabetes UK, who is one of the first in Britain to have undergone a successful islet transplant and thus to be ‘cured’ of type 1 diabetes.
Matthew Spencer, secretary of the Swindon group, said, “Mr Lane is an inspirational speaker, and we hope his visit will offer sufferers some evidence that science is making progress towards a cure for diabetes, as well as boosting awareness of the group.”
Mr Lane will be presented with a cheque from fundraising by the Swindon group. Diabetes sufferers and supporters are welcome to attend the meeting. For details call Matthew Spencer on 851229 or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org