Beryl Beards, aged 73 from Castle Bromwich, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after she fell into a coma for 48 hours when she was 13 years old. She currently has five insulin injections a day, having injected herself at least 50,000 times over her lifetime so far.
Despite less being known about the condition when she was first diagnosed, Beryl has not let the condition get in her way, becoming one of the first Type 1 diabetics to have natural childbirths and enjoying a full and active life attending weekly swimming sessions, working as a full-time short-hand typist and as secretary of a local support group where she supports others with diabetes.
Beryl said: “When I was 13, I began losing weight but my doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me and he prescribed eating glucose sweets. Things took a turn for the worse when I returned from a caravan holiday with my parents and fell into a coma. I was rushed to hospital. The people from my church were praying for me and their prayers were answered. I was diagnosed with diabetes.
“All three of my children were born naturally, although I had been assured that all ‘diabetics’ babies were born via caesarean section. All were born without any complications. I always worked full-time and then part-time whilst the children were young. Having diabetes has not held me back at all as long as I keep to my diet and take my insulin I don’t have any problems. As secretary, I book speakers for the support group to give others reassurance – sometimes it’s just good to talk to someone. I am very thankful to Prof Barnett, Dr Rahim and team at the Heartlands diabetes clinic where I have been a patient for many years.”
Heartlands Hospital diabetes specialist, Dr Reggie John said: “I am very pleased to hear that Diabetes UK is honouring Beryl with the Robert Lawrence Medal. I wholeheartedly congratulate her on her achievement.
“Successful control of Beryl’s diabetes should serve as an encouragement not only to her, but to all newly diagnosed diabetics.”
Peter Shorrick, Diabetes UK regional manager in the Midlands, said: “Beryl is an inspiration to everyone she knows and her life demonstrates that it is possible to enjoy life to the full living with diabetes. I am delighted she has accepted this award from Diabetes UK in recognition of living with diabetes for 60 years.”
The Robert Lawrence medal is named after Dr Lawrence, one of the first people in the UK to receive insulin when he was diagnosed in the 1920s, and a founding member of the British Diabetic Association, now Diabetes UK. Each year, the medal is awarded to someone who has lived with diabetes for 60 years.