Author Archives: Jubie Wigan

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 

Sugarplum collage

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, 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.



Tory Daily Profiles Sugarplum Children

Thank you so so much to the team at Tory Burch for the amazing write up about Sugarplum Children on their news blog, Tory Daily, helping to raise awareness to a global audience. Im honoured to have been featured on such a prestigious website.


Meet the Philanthropist:  Sugarplum Children’s Jubie Wigan
SUN, AUGUST 9, 2015


Named after Eugene Field’s poem The Sugar-Plum Tree, Lady Jubie Wigan’s Sugarplum Children charity is dedicated to building awareness of and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. Here, the English native talks to us about this passion project and shares some travel insights on her corner of the world.

Sugarplum Children is..
A website and fundraising initiative I founded aimed at parents of children who have type 1 diabetes. It offers helps, advice and support to both them as well as friends and relatives for whom a basic understanding of this condition is a necessity.

The inspiration behind it…
Our daughter Aliena was diagnosed in 2012 at the age of just two and a half — our lives have changed dramatically since. For her, it means a lifetime of constant blood tests and injections, highs and lows, and a certain lack of freedom enjoyed by most children of her age as a result of her blood needing constant monitoring. For my husband and I, it has been three years of trying to understand the never-ending complexities that come with this disease — learning how to inject her (in three years she has had over 10,900 needles puncturing her tiny body), how to understand her hugely varying blood glucose levels, how dramatically these affect her moods and behaviour, and how to calculate the right dosage of insulin that must be given every single time she eats. It has been devastating, overwhelming, baffling and frustrating, with tears shed on a almost daily basis. Of course, we know it could be so much worse — there are so many awful, terrifying illnesses, and this seems minor in comparison — but with most other illnesses the doctors are in charge, whereas with diabetes we left home as the patient but arrived back as the doctor. Until she is older, every decision about how much insulin to give her has to be made by us — her life is literally in our hands.

Type 1 diabetes is different because..
Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, where a person’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells produce insulin so this means they can no longer produce their own insulin and must inject manufactured insulin in order to stay alive. We have no idea why Aliena developed diabetes — it isn’t hereditary, she didn’t have a poor diet, and she wasn’t overweight. ANYONE can get type 1, and with the number of children under the age of 10 being diagnosed increasing by 5% every year within the UK, there has never been a more important time to raise awareness for this cause.

We fundraise for…
All the money I raise goes to JDRF, the world leading funder of type 1 diabetes research. We not only hope, but believe, that type 1 can be cured; it is just a matter of good research, time and money.

Past events include…
In 2013 I organized the first Sugarplum Dinner which raised not only £257k, but just as importantly, it raised a huge amount of awareness for this illness which is often detected far too late. The guest list included the Home Secretary Theresa May, who herself has type 1, as well as Poppy Delevingne, Pippa Middleton and the creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes. I was particularly proud of my idea to ask Julian if he would offer the chance to have someone’s name immortalized forever in the award-winning show as one of the live auction prizes, to which he agreed and my friends’ son Atticus Aldridge will indeed be immortalized forever! For last year’s World Diabetes Day, November 14th, we took part in the “Be a Type Onesie” campaign, raising a further £15k as a result of dressing up in unicorn onesies of the day — you can’t even begin to imagine the looks [my husband] Charlie got standing on the platform at Oxford Circus dressed as a pink unicorn at 7AM! I have never been prouder of him.

What’s next…
I’m currently organizing the second Sugarplum Dinner, this year at One Marylebone in November, at which I hope to raise £500k. Planning is well under way and it promises to be bigger and better than before with lots of excitement, such as a performance by the magical Giffords Circus, and also a few other surprises. Details will be on my website nearer the time.

What’s next, part two…
We are also producing a Sugarplum Candle, £10 from which will go directly to JDRF, with the target being to sell 4000; these will also be available to buy via the Sugarplum website as of November, world diabetes month. Not only will it evoke thoughts of deliciously sumptuous sugarplums, but it will bring the light of hope, something those affected by type 1 cannot live without. No one’s childhood should be defined by a daily ordeal of blood tests and injections, and I will do everything in my power to prevent future generations of children suffering from the same fate.

London is like no other city because…
When thinking of London, a quote by the author Graham Swift always springs to mind: “London is like no other city because of its ability to become beautiful. You can suddenly turn a corner and there are odd moments — of light, of weather” — and I cannot agree more. Through the years I have lived in London, every single day I could walk the very same streets, yet from day to day they always look entirely different, always bringing something new and, more often than not, something beautiful .

My advice to first-time visitors…
When I go to other cities, I tend to walk everywhere — if you go from one site to another by tube or taxi you will miss so much. And I always visit the main churches and also food shops. I find a church often a far less stressful and more calming way to take in a city’s art than a packed gallery, somewhere to escape the hustle and bustle of a city, and as for the supermarkets, I know it sounds slightly ridiculous, but nothing is more enlightening about a foreign culture than the foods they eat, and the ways in which these are sold, whether it be a giant Whole Foods in New York, or the incredible spice and olive souks in Marrakech. So my advice to anyone visiting London would be just to walk — literally, buy a good pair trainers and just walk and walk, perhaps with no destination in mind, and just see where you end up.

One of my favorite walking paths…
Walking along the river would probably be my first choice — seeing how the architecture changes from the beautiful and iconic Albert Bridge, through Battersea Park, and just keep going all the way along until you reach the more modern architecture of the South Bank. With every twist and turn you will be astonished by yet another landmark: the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, St Paul’s, The Millennium Bridge… I could go on. Just walk. And then you won’t miss a thing.

And my favorite London spots to spend with the kids…
I now live outside of London, but when I take my children (Aliena, five, and Caius, two) up for a treat during the school holidays, we always go to a wonderful outdoor Vietnamese noodle bar on Sydney Street in Chelsea called Phat Phuc (the name alone produces many cheeky giggles). It’s super-relaxed and speedy. And the novelty of sitting at the little stools and watching the Pho soups being made — it never seems to wear off. Then after that, if it’s summer they love to go to Battersea Park and feed the ducks, visit the charming children’s zoo and then go rowing on the lake, followed by a much-needed ice cream, before heading back home.

And my favorite London getaway…
For anyone keen to venture out of London, I cannot recommend more highly a trip to the Cotswolds. It’s where we now live and I honestly feel as though I’m on the set of the movie The Holiday every single day! Every village is completely different, with proper English pubs, little coffee shops and you will no doubt come across a gem of a shop, tucked away and hidden from the main high streets, from which you will leave laden with goodies.

Must-visit spots in the Cotswolds…
For those visiting in the summer, with or without children, you must visit Giffords Circus, who tour around the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire. I have been lucky enough to see their show every year for the past 12 years and it never ceases to amaze — wonderfully enchanting, hugely inspiring and magical beyond belief, and the most uplifting thing you will ever watch. It’s almost worth visiting in the summer purely to see this.
Follow Jubie Wigan on Instagram @jubiewigan

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.”


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.”


JDRF Awards Ceremony

Charlie and I were not only honoured, but also extremely humbled, to have been given an award for our fundraising efforts at this year’s JDRF ‘Thank You’ ceremony in London a few weeks ago.  It was so amazing to see so many people there from all over the sough of England, all of whom had done their bit to not only raise money for JDRF, but more importably, helping to raise awareness for type 1.  Whether someone raised £50 through a cake sale, or £100,000, every pound is just as important, and brings us all that bit closer to finding the cure. I was so inspired by the energy and drive of everyone who was awarded, but particularly by the children themselves affected by the illness who went out of their way to raise money….I am full f respect and admiration for you all!