NHS worker near Bridgnorth marches towards one million steps for diabetes

An NHS worker from a well-known farming family is marching towards her goal of one million steps to raise awareness of type one diabetes.

Laura Yates with her dog Juke
Laura Yates with her dog Juke

Laura Yates is taking on the challenge set by Diabetes UK to cover the considerable distance between July 1 and the end of September to raise awareness of the struggle faced by millions living with diabetes in the UK.

Granddaughter to the late Henry Yates, Laura suffers with type one diabetes, an autoimmune disease which has seen her self-inject insulin more than 22,000 times in the last 12 years.

The 24-year-old from Middleton Scriven, south of Bridgnorth, works in communications for the NHS and is being joined by a number of colleagues in the challenge while raising money as their group, Team Type One.

"One million steps seems formidable, but it actually only breaks down to about 11,000 steps a day," Laura said.

"I was surprised how achievable that figure is. I do most of mine walking around the farm checking up on our 2,000 sheep."

Laura Yates

Opposed to type two diabetes, which 90 per cent of the four million diabetics in the UK have, type one is not linked to being overweight or inactive, and Laura said the condition has made life in lockdown harder.

"Type one diabetes is an invisible illness. I've been told that you could never tell by looking at me, but it's a condition which I can't go more than a couple of hours without thinking about," she said.

"As if managing diabetes wasn't hard work already, coronavirus has brought along new challenges and fears. If I were to catch any sort of virus, it would completely knock my blood sugar levels for six, which ultimately could lead to me falling into a coma.

"Neither preventable nor curable, I'm dependent on multiple insulin injections to survive each day.

"Hopefully, spreading the word about diabetes will help more people understand the illness, and recognise the symptoms, the four Ts: Thirst, Toilet trips, Tiredness and appearing Thinner."

Laura added: "It would be a huge bonus if this campaign helps others struggling in silence to reach out to fellow type one diabetics.

"There are so many brave conversations happening at the moment, and I've learnt that juggling this illness comes with pride we should shout about, not an embarrassment to hide. None of us want pity nor sympathy, just more consideration and knowledge of what to do if something goes wrong.

"With any luck we will raise some vital funds needed to help find a cure. I'm incredibly thankful to everyone who's donated so far to the team I set up, Team Type 1. The challenge hasn't even started yet, and the initial £200 target has already been smashed – maybe we should add a zero."

To support Laura and her cause, visit step.diabetes.org.uk/pages/laura-39

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