Founder of Sugarplum Children and her 9 year old daughter who lives with type 1 both speak from the heart at the Sugarplum Dinner.
The Fourth Sugarplum Dinner was held on 14th November, World Diabetes Day, at London’s iconic Victoria & Albert Museum, and raised a staggering £1.5m for the international type 1 diabetes research charity JDRF. JDRF.
This year’s event played host to 350 supporters of Sugarplum Children – the charity set up by Jubie Wigan 2013 after her daughter Aliena was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just two years old.
Big names supporting the night with their attendance included :Mark Ronson, Florence Welch, Downton Abbey creator, Lord Julian Fellowes and wife Emma, and Jonny Labey, who starred in X Factor Celebrity and who lives with type 1 diabetes.
Jubie paid tribute to all the children who have to take on the massive responsibility of life with type 1 diabetes, but who don’t let the daily challenges stop them. She told guests: “I believe that a time will come when type 1 diabetes is a distant memory for Aliena and the thousands of other children who manage this challenging condition on a daily basis. With even just a little belief, anything can happen.”
Nine year old Aliena captivated the room whilst giving her own speech about life with type one, for which she received a standing ovation .
Caius Pawson, founder of the Young Turks record label which he launched a couple of years after himself being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, spoke about his passion for the theme of the Sugarplum Dinner – ‘If you believe, anything is possible’ –saying: “This message completely resonates with me. I’ve always lived by the idea that if you can see it, you can make it.
“Being able to see other people with type 1 diabetes not just survive, but thrive, has really helped me to make a better reality of my life with diabetes.”
Guests were treated to a dinner cooked by not one, but two Michelin chefs, Jason Atherton and Tom Kerridge, as well as a mesmerising acoustic performance by Florence Welch, and after party DJ set by none other than Mark Ronson.
The night also saw a live auction conducted by Lord Harry Dalmeny, Chairman of Sotheby’s which included the following one-off prizes: Bespoke Huntsman dinner jacket with inner lining designed by artist Sir Michael Craig-Martin; The Venetian Dream – a trip on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express including a stay at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani and private tours with Lanza Bauccina and Save Venice; Chris Floyd photograph ‘Night must fall, Los Angeles’ and Downton Abbey Comes To Dorset – a stay with Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes, and Lady Fellowes.
The Sugarplum Dinner live auction has become synonymous with money-can’t-buy lots and this was no exception. The final lot was a once-in-a-lifetime six-Michelin Star dining experience with chefs Jason Atherton and Tom Kerridge, a performance by singer/song-writer Jack Savoretti and actors James Norton and Jeremy Irvine as your butlers on the night (both of whom support JDRF and live with type 1 diabetes), and which sold for £100,000.
In September 2018, Jason and Irha Atherton’s daughter Keziah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, after being rushed to hospital. Jason told JDRF: “The awareness and the fundraising that the Sugarplum Dinner brings means the world to us. Keziah is now able to lead the life of an average teenager – but with the addition of insulin injections every day. Irha and I are really passionate about educating people on the warning signs of type 1 diabetes as every minute really does count. ”
While James Norton, actor, JDRF supporter and Sugarplum Dinner committee member – who was unable to attend due to last-minute filming commitments – summed up the importance of World Diabetes Day, saying: “I love how so many people are celebrating the bravery of those living with type 1 diabetes and the crucial support they receive from their family or friends in order to make sure that type 1 diabetes doesn’t hold anyone back.”
The fifth Sugarplum Dinner will take place in November 2021.
All images copyright Fear Photography.
Aliena and I are beyond excited to give you the details for the first ever Sugarplum Sponsored Dog Walk which will be taking place at 11am on Sunday 17th March, at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire. The walk was entirely Aliena’s idea as she wanted to do her own fundraising initiative that all her friends could help with, so to see it become a reality is very special.
During Jubie’s speech, at the recent Sugarplum Dinner, she included an Ode that she had written during one of the very long and lonely nights whilst looking after her daughter Aliena.
An Ode To Type 1
An angry and cruel beast you crept into our lives
Slowly manifesting yourself as a hideous surprise
An evil curse we just can’t shake
Leaving a trail of devastation in your wake
We laugh, we cry, we constantly ask ourselves the question why?
A rollercoaster of highs and lows over the years
With more days than not ending in tears.
Sweets, chocolate and biscuits are banned,
The doing of your very own hand
The same packed lunch every day at school
Whilst everyone tucks into pudding around her,
How can you be so cruel?
Even with constant monitoring perfect results can’t be guaranteed
Counting every single carb as you seem to watch on with glee
So many other factors can turn things awry
However diligent we are and however hard we try.
Night after night you make me want to scream
Waking our precious child from her sweet deep dreams
I walk down the hallway in silence so deep
Keeping a constant watch over her as she sleeps
I hold her hand tightly fingers so small
Constantly questioning why you came to call
I watch her breathing so peaceful and warm
No evidence of the forces inside fighting the constant storm.
Will we ever be free of injections and blood testing
I sit and wonder as I watch her resting
The beep of the meter breaks the silence of the night
A small drop of blood tells me if everything’s alright.
The seconds count down to the final display
I wait with baited breath, knowing the repercussions from it will say
My heart sinks as I see the number is low
Another test done, but a lifetime more to go,
I try to wake her and force feed glucose
How long until she is out of the danger zone who knows
Time passes by, while I wait for the number to rise
And I sit in the darkness and quietly cry.
How can you do this to someone so small?
As strong and as brave she can be,
She will always be my baby most of all.
But I have to stay strong and for her I will fight,
And we will take you on with all our might.
We are teaching her to master and conquer this foe
You will not dare stop her, I have her promised her so.
So don’t for one minute think you’ve won
This battle has only just begun.
Your time is up type 1, your time is now
The curtain is falling, and you must take your final bow.
So know this, little stars, we will fight until the end
And on that you really can depend
With all the money that is going to be raised,
Thousands of childhoods will be saved
And the time is getting closer when you won’t have to be quite so brave.
Written by Jubie Wigan
We are extremely proud and excited to announce that the final Sugarplum Dinner, held on 14th November 2017 (World Diabetes Day) raised a staggering £750,000 for JDRF, taking the total raised by Sugarplum Children to £1.6m, which really will change the lives of all those brave little stars who live with this condition.
The dinner was a star-studded affair at London’s iconic V&A Museum, attended by 400 guests, including the Prime Minister, actors James Norton & Jeremy Irvine, all of whom live with the condition, as well as Jamie Dornan, Rafe Spall, Jack Savoretti and a who’s who of London’s poet players.
James Norton welcomed everyone to the breathtaking Raphael Galleries, before founder of Sugarplum Children, Jubie Wigan, spoke about her family’s battles with the illness, finishing with an Ode to Type 1, after which there was not a dry eye in the room. The silent auction took place whilst guests enjoyed a delicious dinner cooked by Last Supper, and then followed the live auction with Chairman of Sotheby’s, Lord Harry Dalmeny. The sought after lots included dinner with James Norton, a private concert with singer Jack Savoretti, and a week staying in the most luxurious house on exclusive island of Mustique.
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.
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.
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”.