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Bridgend designer walks 1 million steps to mark 30 years with Type 1 diabetes

A textile designer from Bridgend is taking on the 1 Million Step Challenge for Diabetes UK Cymru to mark 30 years of living with Type 1 diabetes.

Laura Thomas, 41, who is also a lecturer at Carmarthen School of Art, was diagnosed with the condition aged 11 just days after starting secondary school. 30 years later, she and her family will be walking one million steps over three months to raise vital funds to help the charity support other people in Wales with the condition.

The 1 Million Step Challenge takes place between 1 July and 30 September. It will take Laura at least 10,000 steps a day to reach her million.

Laura said:

“It was a huge shock when I was diagnosed. My family had noticed I had been drinking a lot. I remember drinking 10 glasses of water and still feeling thirsty. I also needed the toilet more than usual.

“I had never really heard of diabetes and I didn’t know anyone else who had it. I had to spend two weeks in hospital, which was difficult when I’d only just started school. It was a big learning curve and I don’t think I really understood the seriousness of the condition until a few years later.

“My mum has a phobia of needles so I had to be quite independent about injecting my insulin early on. I was lucky to have lots of support from the team at Withybush Hospital and from my school nurse Wendy Hedley, who supported me checking my blood sugar levels every lunchtime.

“I thought fundraising to support others with the condition was a great way to mark 30 years with Type 1.”

Laura has seen a huge change in the technology available to support people with diabetes.

Laura continued:

“I had fantastic support from the Royal Glamorgan Hospital team when I was pregnant with my son, Evan, now six. They helped me start using an insulin pump. I recently started using a Freestyle Libre, a sensor which I wear on my arm and records my blood glucose levels continuously. The technology nowadays is extraordinary and I’m very grateful for it.

“I’m really looking forward to the Challenge. I have a step counter on my phone and will have to work a bit harder than normal! I’ve told Evan we’ll need to go for more walks as a family and he is excited too.”

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects around 19,000 adults in Wales. People with the condition don’t produce the hormone insulin, which is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood. Nobody knows what causes Type 1 diabetes and it isn’t currently preventable.

Joseph Cuff, Fundraising Manager, Diabetes UK Cymru, said:

“We’re so grateful to Laura for taking up our challenge and raising vital funds to help other people living with diabetes in Wales.

“People can walk it, jog it or dance it! There are so many ways people can reach one million steps. You can take on the challenge alone or get your family, friends and colleagues involved. You can even split the million steps between a team to make it easier. Every penny raised will help us to support the millions of people living with diabetes in the UK so please give generously to back Laura and support her efforts.”

To sponsor Laura, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/laura-thomas1977