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Celebrities join UK leading experts to challenge current perceptions of Type 1 diabetes


On 30 March, at the fourth annual Talking About Diabetes event, a host of celebrities, athletes, patients and healthcare professionals took to the stage to share their inspirational stories of living with and managing type 1 diabetes.
  • Author Company: PharmiWeb
  • Author Name: Mike Wood
Editor: PharmiWeb Editor Last Updated: 24-Sep-2019

On 30 March, at the fourth annual Talking About Diabetes event, a host of celebrities, athletes, patients and healthcare professionals took to the stage to share their inspirational stories of living with and managing type 1 diabetes. Through a series of talks, the speakers provided fresh perspectives on living with type 1 diabetes, whilst experts in the area provided insights on the importance of removing barriers and embracing new technologies. Novo Nordisk UK is a key sponsor of the event, which took place at the Royal College of Physicians, London.

Actor James Norton, best known for his roles in McMafia, Happy Valley, Grantchester, and War & Peace, shared his personal experiences of type 1 diabetes, including how it impacted the start of his career. “Diabetes has made me more empathetic, and empathy is a wonderful thing. I’m becoming more and more proud of being type one - let’s celebrate our differences.” James was joined by boxer Muhammad Ali, Actor and Writer Jade Byrne, Professional Team Novo Nordisk cyclist Sam Brand*, BBC Journalist Lauren Turner, and local London patient Amy Spencer, who all shared their personal experience of living with type 1 diabetes.


In the UK, it is estimated that every two minutes someone learns that they have diabetes.1 Around 4.5 million people in the UK are living with diabetes, of which 10% have type 1 diabetes, and an estimated 1.1 million who are undiagnosed.1 If not effectively managed, diabetes can lead to a number of complications, some of which can be fatal.1 These complications account for 80% of the £10 billion that the NHS spends on diabetes management per year.1,2


Dr Partha Kar, Co-creator of the event, Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology and Associate National Clinical Director, Diabetes with NHS England said, “Type 1 diabetes care and management probably hinges on 2 things- better self-management and peer support. This event focuses on bringing people together, interacting and learning from each other- whilst also hearing stories of those for whom Type 1 diabetes hasn't been a barrier to achieve whatever they wanted. The main message is of hope - and one built on the foundation of camaraderie.”


Key insights from other speakers included:

  • Muhammad Ali, Boxer “I’m on my way to becoming the first world diabetic champion boxer and I’m not going to stop. As diabetics, nothing is going to stop us in life as long as we keep a check on our sugar levels. Nothing is impossible.”


  • Jade Byrne, Actor and writer “By sharing my experience, and other people’s experiences of living with diabetes through my play, ‘Pricks’, I hope to provide insight and education about the rollercoaster of emotions that type 1 diabetics and their families can experience. I always knew that I wanted to write a play, and having type 1 diabetes gave me the perfect story to tell.”


  • Sam Brand, Professional cyclist with Team Novo Nordisk “I treat my diabetes as a friend, not an enemy – it’s not going anywhere, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I try not to worry and embrace it, to be brave and to be positive. I wanted to be a professional cyclist; my diabetes doesn’t even come into it. We {team Novo Nordisk} are a platform to show the world what is possible with diabetes: to inspire, educate and empower.”


  • Lauren Turner, BBC journalist “I don’t think my diabetes has ever stopped me doing anything. If anything, having this condition has made me a stronger person. I had experienced issues with my self-confidence before my diagnosis, but diabetes has taught me that life is for living, to take every opportunity I can and to trust myself.”


  • Amy Steven, patient (Portsmouth), “One day I felt like I was treated as a person and not just a patient; I was asked how I was doing, rather than how my numbers were doing. Simple things like this make all the difference.”


Novo Nordisk UK is committed to improving the lives of people living with diabetes, and will continue working with the Talking About Diabetes key stakeholders to drive change in the current perception of living with diabetes in the UK, and ensuring people living with diabetes get access to the best possible care.  



Novo Nordisk has sponsored the venue and catering for this meeting and provided logistical support. *Novo Nordisk cyclist, Sam Brand, has been compensated by Novo Nordisk for his travel.

Abbott has sponsored the AV provision for this meeting. Dexcom has sponsored the staging provision for this meeting.


About Novo Nordisk


Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 95 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people with obesity, haemophilia, growth disorders and other serious chronic diseases. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 43,200 people in 79 countries and markets its products in more than 170 countries.


Further information


Samantha Rowlands                   +44 (0) 1293 613555  

Novo Nordisk Press Office           +44 (0) 2076 321994   






  1. Diabetes UK: Facts and stats. (2016). Available at: Last accessed: March 2019.
  2. Diabetes UK: The cost of diabetes report. (2014). Available at: resources-s3/2017-11/diabetes%20uk%20cost%20of%20diabetes%20report.pdf. Last accessed: March 2019.