Hooray For Theresa May!

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Aliena Wigan, pictured with the now Prime Minister, Theresa May, at the Sugarplum Dinner 2016.

Yet another apology for not having written anything on the site for a while – juggling work and family life, as well as Sugarplum Children,  seems to be harder than i thought it would be, but I couldn’t not mention the most exciting thing to have happened in a long time – the fact that not only do we have a female prime minister, but more importantly, one who lives with type 1 diabetes.

Having met Theresa at both of my Sugarplum Dinners, I can’t begin to stress enough what an engaging, witty and likeable person she is.  And more important than that, she is a woman of her word and will always support a cause close to her heart whenever possible.   The Sugarplum Dinner last year was held three days after the attacks on Paris, and despite being strong advised by Scotland Yard not to attend any public engagements, the then Home Secretary ignored there advice as she had made a promise to come and show her support, something which meant the world not only to me, but more importantly to Aliena as well.

So how wonderful it is to have a Prime Minister who lives with type 1, to show all children living with any illness that anything really is possible. In her words ‘it doesn’t change what you can do’, an inspiration to any parent or child affected by this unrelenting condition.

Every cloud does indeed have a very bright silver lining.

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

 

First of all I’m so so sorry (yet again!) for my silence over the past few months. After the huge (but rather overwhelming) success of the last Sugarplum Dinner, I decided to give myself a bit of a break from all things diabetes, and focus on other areas of my life – obviously looking after my family, and in particular Aliena, meaning that it’s very rare that I ever switch off from thinking about blood sugars or carbs, but I decided I needed a break from the illness beyond the daily routine of managing her type 1.

It always takes me a month or so to readjust once the dinner is over – I throw everything I have into the organisation and thrive on the planning and execution, basking in the glamour and glory of the what we manage to achieve, so as you can imagine, once it’s over, all that remains are the invoices that need to be paid, and the ever present reminders that life with a child who has type 1 is far from glamourous.

But what an exciting few months it’s been – I decided that now that the school are dealing with Aliena’s bloods so well, and I’m lucky enough to have some more help at home, that I’m in a great position go back to work, and I’m so so thrilled to be starting a new three day a week job as of May, as Brand Director for a new men’s and womenswear label. I will of course still run Sugarplum, and will get much better and doing regular newsletters and blog posts, so you will hopefully be hearing a lot more from me!

I finally feel as though I can see the light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel (almost 4 years since what we call D -Day), so I wanted to share this with all fellow parents – that it really does get easier. With a combination of newer technology (the introduction of both FreeStyle Libre and her pump has quite literally changed our lives) and friends and family being less scared to look after her as a result; Aliena being able to take a bit more control of her diabetes; and me finally learning to let go of control both at home and at school, I feel as though I’m finally getting my life back, and I can’t tell you how AMAZING that feels!

I will always be a mother first and foremost, and you know what, a pretty good one at that, but oh boy am I excited to get on that train to London twice a week and remind myself that I used to be good at other things too…for too long I think I have let type 1 define our family, and as Aliena gets older I’m learning she won’t always want it to be this way – we have to learn to let it fit in with our lives, and not the other way round, and it feels pretty empowering making the first step towards doing this.

But panic not, after a well earned break, I’m now back ready to fight our cause with even more passion, energy and fire, so watch this space. As I said in my last speech

‘Where there is a will there is a way, and as any parent of a child who is ill will tell you, our wills are stronger than most – so here I stand dressed in my armour, war paint on my face, ready for battle; so you’d better watch out type 1 because I’m coming for you’. 

We can do it – between us all we can win this fight and ensure that life without type 1 for our precious babies becomes a reality.

Encapsulated stem cells halt type 1 diabetes in mice for six months

We were so excited to hear on the news this morning of this new development – and feel very proud to be helping to make a difference.  We know it will be many years of testing before these dramatic changes will affect our children’s lives, but it is still a very large, encouraging step!

Encapsulated stem cells halt type 1 diabetes in mice for six months

Harvard hero Dr Doug Melton, working on a project led by Dr Daniel Anderson and Dr Robert Langer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has today shown encapsulated human islet (insulin-producing) cells transplanted into mice can withstand the autoimmune attack in type 1 diabetes, effectively halting the condition for up to six months.
The findings, reported in Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology detailed results from ongoing studies to develop an encapsulated islet cell therapy for treatment of type 1 diabetes.

In 2014, Melton revealed as part of JDRF-funded research at Harvard that we could for the first time create massive numbers of insulin-producing cells from stem cells.

Encapsulated islet cell therapies are created by wrapping pancreatic cells in a protective barrier before implanting them into the body. Once implanted, the barrier shields the cells from an immune system attack, and the cells are able to sense changing blood-glucose levels and produce insulin and other required hormones as needed. The study released today revealed we can now protectively encapsulate cells produced this way within mice for a period as long as six months.

Sarah Johnson, UK Director of Policy and Communication at JDRF said: “We are really pleased our continued support of Dr Melton’s research is showing these results and an early indication that encapsulation could be a new method of treating type 1 diabetes in the future.

“It’s significant to see a study of this length return such promising results. If this study can be replicated in humans then one day we could potentially free people with type 1 diabetes from a life of insulin injections.”

The Sugarplum Dinner 2015 Raises A Staggering £620k for JDRF

A host of celebrities including Lord Julian Fellowes, Matt Barber, Masterchef’s John Torode and TV presenter Lisa Faulkner helped raise £620,000 at the second Sugarplum Dinner raising funds for JDRF. Other well known guests who were in attendance included Downton Abbey creator Lord Julian Fellowes, actors Tom Ward and Matt Barber, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Arun Nayar.

They were entertained by performers from Gifford’s Circus and DJ Sam Young provided the music. There was also a live auction, which racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks

Ms May, who has diabetes herself, said: “I know from personal experience of the challenges that come with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. But these challenges are all the greater when type 1 diabetes affects a young child.

“Parents need the right kind of advice and support to help them navigate through the difficulties and ensure that their child can thrive. That’s why the work of Sugarplum Children is so important – supporting children and families and fundraising for JDRF’s efforts to treat, prevent and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes.”

Lord Julian Fellowes said: “It is a pleasure to support Jubie Wigan and the wonderful work she is doing with Sugarplum Children. Seeing her young daughter Aliena cope so gallantly with this cruel disease makes my resolve even stronger to do whatever I can to help and of course so many people feel the same.”

Last year Lord Fellowes donated the naming of a character in Downton Abbey, who turned out to be Rose’s future husband Atticus Aldridge. This year he offered a signed leather bound copy of the very first script of Downton Abbey, which went for a staggering £34,000.

Other prizes available at the auction included the opportunity to ride the Goodwood racecourse in front of the crowds alongside Gold Cup winning amateur jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen and a day behind-the-scenes with photographer Mario Testino. A dinner party cooked by John Torode went for £40,000, and as there was such a fight between the two highest bidders, John very generously agreed to offer a second dinner, raising an impressive £80,000 in total.
Matt Barber said: “I was truly honoured to be asked to participate in this fabulous evening especially since my character in Downton Abbey, Atticus Aldridge was born at the last Sugarplum Dinner! Hearing Jubie speak about life for her young daughter Aliena, who suffers with type 1 diabetes, is humbling, and I’m delighted to be able to support the charity in finding a cure for this awful disease.”

Jubie said: “To see so many friends and family together supporting children like my own daughter Aliena with type 1 diabetes is just so overwhelming.

“Their support will enable JDRF to continue to try and find a cure for this relentless disease. My target tonight is half a million pounds. I also hope tonight will help to remind people about the seriousness of this disease. With Sugarplum Children I set out to be the voice for those who are too little to shout about it themselves, and this dinner has most certainly provided a platform from which to do this.”

JDRF funds research to cure, treat and prevent type 1. The organisation works with the government, academia and industry to accelerate research in the UK and within healthcare policy to ensure that the outcomes of research are delivered to people with type 1 in the UK.

Karen Addington, chief executive of JDRF in the UK and the nation’s charity leader of the year 2015, said: “The Sugarplum Dinner was an utter triumph. A phenomenal amount has been raised by the event to support JDRF’s work to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.

“Furthermore, the presence of A-list celebrities backing the cause means awareness of type 1 diabetes is reaching new heights.

“JDRF is deeply thankful for all who were involved with the evening – especially Sugarplum Children founder Jubie Wigan and her incredible family”.

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MR CHARLIE & LADY JUBIE WIGAN and their children CAIUS WIGAN and ALIENA WIGAN at the Sugarplum Dinner in aid Sugarplum Children a charity supporting children with type 1 diabetes and raising funds for JDRF, the world's leading type 1 diabetes research charity held at One Marylebone, London on 18th November 2015.SUGARPLUM DINNER042SUGARPLUM DINNER149

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Introducing The Sugarplum Candle

 The Sugarplum Candle – On-Sale from 1st October 

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We are hugely excited to announce the launch of The Sugarplum Candle, in collaboration with Wick & Tallow, whose candles were born out of a love for good design, great fragrances and a deep respect for heritage and character. The partnership was given the go ahead by my daughter, Aliena, herself when she saw that Wick & Tallow’s logo is a unicorn, her favourite animal in the entire world (fantasy or otherwise). Once we saw Wick & Tallow’s logo we just knew this was the company that was meant to make the Sugarplum Candle – if Aliena believes in unicorns then we should all believe there can be a cure for this unrelenting condition.

And we hope you will be as excited by the partnership as we all are! The scent, which includes sweet and gentle notes of white fig and vanilla, not only will evoke thoughts of deliciously sumptuous sugarplums, but it will bring the light of hope, something those of us affected by type 1 cannot live without.

The Sugarplum Candle will be available from 1st October at www.wickandtallow.com, as well as at the Nina Campbell shop on Walton Street, and Soho Home, the lifestyle shop at the recently opened Soho Farmhouse in Greta Tew.  The candle is £40 and for every one sold, £10 will go directly to JDRF.

 

 

Three Year ‘Diaversary’….

Apologies for not having posted for a while – the past few months have been so busy, trying to juggle other work, and begin a mother, whilst organising the next Sugarplum Dinner in November, but I promise to write more regularly after the Summer. Just bear with me!

Aliena just celebrated her three year diaversary, on 20th July and as sad it makes me to realise to what degree type 1 has become such an intrinsic part of or lives, I also felt strangely uplifted, to look back at those first few months after diagnosis, and to see how far we have come in the way in which we manage it.

Happy holidays everyone!

 

Scientists Close to Making Vaccine to Prevent Diesease

The Independent, 12th March 2015

Type 1 diabetes: Scientists close to making vaccine to prevent disease

The jab is hoped to be available within the next 10 years

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Scientists working to find a vaccine for type 1 diabetes have said it could be developed “within a generation”.

Researchers at several UK universities are to carry out tests and trials of prototype jabs as part of a £4.4 million project announced today.

They estimate the first working vaccines to help delay or possibly prevent type 1 diabetes, which affects about 300,000 people in the UK, could be available in the next 10 years.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Diabetes UK’s director of research, said: “This research is hugely exciting because it has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living with type 1 diabetes, as well as leading us towards a longed-for cure.”

People with type 1 diabetes, the most common found in children, are unable to produce the hormone insulin and require daily injections, a healthy diet and regular exercise.

The research, funded by Diabetes UK, Tesco and JDRF, is being announced at Diabetes UK’s annual Professional Conference at London’s ExCeL centre and will consist of four studies carried out at UK institutions.

King’s College London will lead the country’s first-ever trial of a prototype vaccine in children and teenagers living with the condition.

Cardiff University will aim to develop “immuno-therapy” trials in UK hospitals, training doctors and researchers, while Imperial College will look to recruit sufferers to take part and King’s College will establish laboratories to study the results.

A medical assistant administers an insulin shot to a diabetes patient at a private clinic in New Delhi on November 8, 2011.A medical assistant administers an insulin shot to a diabetes patientDr Rankin added: “Today, type 1 diabetes is an unavoidable condition with a huge impact on the lives of more than 300,000 people in the UK. Managing diabetes is a daily struggle and too many people develop devastating health complications or die before their time.

“These studies will take us a long way towards changing that – bringing us closer than ever to preventing and ultimately curing the condition.

“None of this will be easy or happen overnight. The first vaccines will probably help people to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes rather than preventing it entirely.

“But even this would help to reduce the risk of serious complications, such as stroke, blindness and heart attacks. In the longer term, a fully effective vaccine would represent a huge medical breakthrough and could transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.”

READ MORE:
TYPE 1 DIABETES CURE WITHIN REACH
COMMON DIABETES MEDICINE COULD HELP TREAT ALZHEIMER’S
DIABETES AGES THE MIND AND CAN BRING ON EARLIER DEMENTIA

Professor Colin Dayan, of Cardiff University, said: “Within four years we expect to see results from studies of more than six potential treatments, and within 10 years we hope to see the first vaccine therapies delivered to patients in the clinic.”

 

Atticus Aldridge Comes To Downton Abbey, A Character Born at The Sugarplum Dinner

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I was so excited to watch the arrival of ATTICUS ALDRIDGE to Downton Abbey last night  – a character born at The Sugarplum Dinner last year, after I approached the hugely talented Julian Fellowes to ask if he might consider auctioning the chance to have a character in your name on the show…..he said yes, and Atticus is the result!  My extremely generous friends bid a great deal of money to make this happen, choosing the name of their son, and what a perfectly Donwtonian name it is.  Played by the very handsome Matt Barber, we hope he will be on our screens for a while.

All money raised at the dinner – the auction alone raised £156k – went to JDRF, the world’s largest research charity for Type 1 diabetes, and other projects by Sugarplum Children, so we are all hugely grateful to everyone who donated money during the dinner.

Downton has always been one of my favourite shows on television, but is now extra special, knowing that I helped make telly history and have been part of something very special.  Now i have to hope we can offer the same auction prize next year…….watch this space!!

Long live Atticus!!!