Published on: 16 September 2020

The Chapman family of South Shields have not let the pandemic stand in the way of their fundraising for the children’s diabetes team at South Tyneside District Hospital. Daniel was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was four years old. He was 13 on August  24th and, in the intervening years, mum, Glynis, and dad, Graham, estimate they have helped to raise about £4,000 to support the work of the specialist team who have helped their son to live as normal a life as possible.

Even in lockdown they were busy, winning two neighbourhood quizzes on Zoom and donating their £200 prize money to a cause which is so dear to their hearts. Their employers also chipped in with generous donations and, as a result, the family were able to hand over almost £1,000 this summer alone. 

Glynis is an audit manager with pharmaceutical company GSK (GlaxoSmithKline). Its latest £500 donation is one of a number over recent years through its Making a Difference scheme, which recognises the volunteering activities of its employees.

Graham, 54, is a prison officer at HMP Frankland. HM Prison Service’s charity fund, to which prison service staff from all over the country contribute, recently donated about £230 to the diabetes team. In the past, the fund has also given money to provide Daniel with personal equipment.

Glynis, 46, who is also mum to Alex, 19, said: “We first started fundraising to say thank you to the specialist children’s diabetes team for all they’d done for us and it has just grown. We have done all sorts of things, including cupcake sales, raffles and bingo. It’s amazing to think that we have raised thousands of pounds and we fully intend to continue to help other children like Daniel.

“They are always there for our family when we need them. There have been times when we have been frantic with worry but if there are any issues we just have to pick up the phone and they are there to give us reassurance. We have got to know Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Gabriel Okugbeni, and the specialist nurses Joanne Henderson and Val Campbell so well that when we go for Daniel’s appointments it’s not just about the tests, we feel there is a personal connection.”

His parents were alerted to Daniel’s condition when they noticed he was drinking more than usual and was very tired, even once falling asleep at school. He also began complaining about back pain. Fearing he might have a kidney infection, they took him to the GP and, following a test, Type 1 Diabetes was diagnosed and he was referred to the children’s diabetes team.

Nine years on, Daniel still attends regular clinics at South Tyneside District Hospital. In addition, Daniel has annual eyesight, foot and blood checks. His condition is now so well managed that he is able to do all the things his friends do.

Glynis said: “He used to be very self-conscious when he was younger because we had to give him insulin pen injections, which were also really uncomfortable for him, and he couldn’t go to sleepovers with his friends because we had to do finger prick tests every couple of hours and every time he had something to eat.”

Instead of the finger prick tests, Daniel now has a continuous glucose monitor – a small device which is inserted under the skin and lasts for about 10 days. This measures his glucose levels continuously throughout the day and night and sends phone alerts so his parents can keep track of how he’s doing. It is linked to a state-of-the art automated pump, which increases or decreases his insulin and which has replaced the manual injections.  

Glynis added: “Daniel is doing so well. He is very athletic boy, he loves being outdoors and he is a football fanatic, playing twice a week. He is fascinated with anything to do with Science and says he wants to be a pathologist.”

Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Joanne Henderson, said: “It is fantastic to see Daniel living his life to the full. On behalf of the team, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Chapmans for all their generosity. We use the money they raise for the benefit of children and young people with diabetes and their families, which can involve education and activities.”