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!


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!


We were ‘Type Onesies’ on World Diabetes Day

Apologies for my silence over the past few months, but with christmas, and birthdays, it has just been non-stop, but I will now try to do regular updates – 2015 is a big year for Sugarplum!!

We were so proud to have raised over £6000 for JDRF for World Diabetes Day, dressed as Unicorns!!  Thank you so much to all who donated, but in particular, to Aliena’s school – Great Tew Primary, and the village pub – The Falkland Arms in Great Tew – we were so touched and overwhelmed by your support.


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


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!!!

The News We have All Been Waiting For….



Diabetes: a cure at last

Hannah Devlin

Friday 10th October 2014The Times

© Times Newspapers Limited 2014

Scientist devoted 23 years to research after infant son developed condition Diabetes treatment is a ‘game-changer’

A cure for diabetes is within reach after scientists developed a treatment that eliminates the need for sufferers to inject insulin.

The therapy involves a one-off transplant of laboratory-grown pancreatic cells, which scientists have finally succeeded in producing in large enough volumes to be able to treat patients. The cells worked normally for many months when implanted into mice, and the first human patients should undergo the treatment in the next few years.

The breakthrough by Harvard scientists was hailed yesterday as a medical advance potentially as significant as the advent of antibiotics. Jose Oberholtzer, an expert in transplantation at the University of Illinois at Chicago, predicted the development would “leave a dent in the history of diabetes“.

About 400,000 people in Britain have type 1 diabetes, including 30,000 children. The breakthrough could also help 10 per cent of Britain’s three million type 2 diabetes sufferers.

The advance is the culmination of 23 years of research by the Harvard scientist Doug Melton, who began working on type 1 diabetes when his son, Sam, had the condition diagnosed in childhood.

Professor Melton said yesterday that his team was now just one step away from the finish line, adding: “It was gratifying to know that we could do something that we always thought was possible, but many people felt it wouldn’t work.

“If we had shown this was not possible, then I would have had to give up on this whole approach. Now I’m really energised.”

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said that if confirmed in a clinical trial the impact on diabetes would be “a medical game-changer on a par with antibiotics and bacterial infections”. The scientists are now in the last stages of animal testing in nonhuman primates.

Type 1 diabetes, which normally begins in childhood, is an autoimmune disease in which the body kills off all its pancreatic beta cells. The cells produce insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Without beta cells, the body’s sugar levels fluctuate wildly, meaning that patients need to monitor glucose and typically inject insulin several times each day.

In a study, published today in the journal Cell, Professor Melton’s team used embryonic stem cells and adult cells that had been genetically “rewound”.

Both these cell types have the ability to turn into any cell type in the body, but require the right biochemical environment to be “coaxed” down a particular developmental route. Scientists have struggled for years to get the set-up right to produce the volumes of pancreatic cells that would be necessary for clinical use.

Professor Melton’s team appears to have cracked this problem by identifying an efficient way to turn both stem cell types into beta cells.

When the cells were tested in the laboratory, they produced insulin, responded to glucose and appeared to work normally for many months when implanted in mice.

Crucially, a single production line of cells could be used to treat all patients, rather than each person needing their own genetically matched treatment, the study suggests.

Before being transplanted into the mice, the cells were placed in a porous capsule, which allowed insulin to diffuse out, but protected the cells from attacks by the body’s immune system.

This eliminated the need for geneticmatching to patients, meaning that cells could be produced on an industrial scale and used in patients without the risk of immune rejection. A further advantage would be that the capsule of cells could be quickly removed and replaced if it stopped working.

Although insulin injections help to keep glucose levels broadly in check, they do not match the body’s fine tuning, and this lack of control can eventually lead to complications from blindness to the loss of limbs.

Richard Elliott, of Diabetes UK, said that the treatment could “transform” the lives of people with the condition, although it was likely to be years before the cell-based therapy could be used routinely. “It could mean they no longer need to use insulin, which would be a historic breakthrough,” he added.

The treatment could also help the one in ten sufferers of type 2 diabetes who rely on insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes, which is diet related, occurs when the insulin cells stop working properly or when the body stops responding normally to insulin.

The discovery of a new type of “good” fat made in the body could help to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. The previously unidentified lipid molecules increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

Unlike omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, the good fat named fatty acid hydroxyl fatty acids, or FAHFAs, are molecules found in fat cells as well as other cells throughout the body.

The NHS estimates that in England there are 3.1 million people over 16 with diabetes but by 2030 the figure is expected to rise to 4.6 million, with nine out of ten sufferers having type 2 diabetes.

The new findings, made by a team of scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the Salk Institute in California, were published online by the journal Cell.

Profile Professor Melton

The satisfaction for Doug Melton, right, is as much personal as it is professional. His son was found to have type 1 diabetes when he was six months old. Later, his daughter received the same diagnosis. The Harvard professor, who completed his PhD in molecular biology at Trinity College, Cambridge, told The New York Times: “Like any parent, I asked myself, ‘What can I do?’ The answer was to shift my research to an area that might help them. I wanted my children to know I was doing everything I could.”

He had to overcome scepticism and political hurdles. In 2001 he secured private funding when George W Bush cut research into new stem cell lines. In 2007 he appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people.


‘Giant leap’ to type 1 diabetes cure

By James GallagherHealth editor, BBC News website

Insulin injectionScientists were able to transform stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells

The hunt for a cure for type 1 diabetes has recently taken a “tremendous step forward”, scientists have said.

The disease is caused by the immune system destroying the cells that control blood sugar levels.

A team at Harvard University used stem cells to produce hundreds of millions of the cells in the laboratory.

Tests on mice showed the cells could treat the disease, which experts described as “potentially a major medical breakthrough”.

Beta cells in the pancreas pump out insulin to bring down blood sugar levels.

But the body’s own immune system can turn against the beta cells, destroying them and leaving people with a potentially fatal disease because they cannot regulate their blood sugar levels.

It is different to the far more common type 2 diabetes which is largely due to poor lifestyle.

Perfect cocktailThe team at Harvard was led by Prof Doug Melton who began the search for a cure when his son was diagnosed 23 years ago. He then had a daughter who also developed type 1.

He is attempting to replace the approximately 150 million missing beta cells, using stem cell technology.

Beta cellsLab-made beta cells were transplanted into the mice

He found the perfect cocktail of chemicals to transform embryonic stem cells into functioning beta cells.

Tests on mice with type 1 diabetes, published in the journal Cell, showed that the lab-made cells could produce insulin and control blood sugar levels for several months.

Dr Melton said: “It was gratifying to know that we could do something that we always thought was possible.

“We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line.”

However, his children were not quite so impressed: “I think, like all kids, they always assumed that if I said I’d do this, I’d do it.”

If the beta cells were injected into a person they would still face an immune assault and ultimately would be destroyed.

More research is needed before this could become a cure.

‘Game-changer’Sarah Johnson, from the charity JDRF which funded the study, told the BBC: “This isn’t a cure, it is a great move along the path. It is a tremendous step forward.

“Replacing the cells that produce insulin as well as turning off the immune response that causes type 1 diabetes is the long-term goal.”

Prof Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London, said: “A scientific breakthrough is to make functional cells that cure a diabetic mouse, but a major medical breakthrough is to be able to manufacture at large enough scale the functional cells to treat all diabetics.

“This research is therefore a scientific and potentially a major medical breakthrough.

“If this scalable technology is proven to work in both the clinic and in the manufacturing facility, the impact on the treatment of diabetes will be a medical game-changer on a par with antibiotics and bacterial infections.”

Dr Gillian Morrison, from the University of Edinburgh, agreed that this “represents a real advance in the field”.

She said: “The next important challenge will be to find ways to maintain these cells inside the body so they are protected from the immune response and have long-term function.”

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My New Role as Consultant…And Patient!

Aliena’s school very kindly asked me to come in and talk a bit about diabetes, as this week they’re learning about doctors and nurses, something which I was thrilled to do, knowing that the more her friends understand her condition, the more supportive they will be.

It was hugely rewarding hearing them all asking questions with genuine interest (well, for 5 year olds anyway!), and I felt very proud of myself, being able to pass on all that I have learned about the good soldiers and the bad soldiers inside Aliena’s body.  What I hadn’t been warned about was that after my session as ‘consultant’, I was then to become the patient for half an hour…..from which I still haven’t recovered!!!!!  As you can see from the pictures, they were an enthusiastic bunch  – let’s just say I feel a little too old for playing doctors and nurses…!IMG_2010