Medal to recognise Ron's 70 years with diabetes

A great-grandfather has been recognised for living with diabetes for nearly all of his life.

Sunday, 17th December 2017, 7:40 am
Ron and Ruby Crawford with Dr Stuart Bennett.

Ron Crawford, from Dudley, was presented with the John Macleod medal from Diabetes UK to make 70 years with Type 1 diabetes.

He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in August 1947 when he was 11 years old.

At a special event at North Tyneside General Hospital, Ron was presented with the medal by Dr Stuart Bennett, consultant physician for endocrinology and diabetes at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Michelle Stebbings, from Diabetes UK.

The John Macleod medal is awarded to people who have lived with diabetes for 70 years. John Macleod was awarded half of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin.

Ron, 81, said: “Back then we didn’t really know a lot about diabetes, we found out by accident really.

“My mam and dad noticed something was wrong, I was going to the toilet a lot and just wasn’t right.

“The doctor came round to the house, as we had to pay then – it was the year before the NHS was formed. He took a test and sent me straight to hospital and that was that, I had diabetes.”

After spending three weeks in hospital, Ron had to begin learning how to manage the condition and testing his blood glucose levels was not so straight forward. He had to test his glucose levels by using a test tube and benedict solution over a flame – a far cry from the blood glucose monitors he uses today.

Ron said: “At school, my family asked the headmaster if I could leave for lunch a little earlier so I could get the bus home to get my insulin injections and he refused, so I had to run home each day.

“One day I passed out on the way home and someone found me and took me back to my house. It affected me and I lost a lot of school time because I was worried about getting ill while I was there.”

He added: “After we retired my wife Ruby and I had more leisure time, we got to go out dancing more often at the local social club – we love to dance, and we went on as many holidays as we could. Diabetes hasn’t got in the way of living life to the full.

“I’ve learned to understand diabetes, how it affects me and the best way to keep my diabetes under control and I don’t dwell on the past – what’s happened has happened. I’ve been lucky enough to have received great care over the years and I’m grateful for that.”

Michelle said: “It has been a pleasure and honour to celebrate this occasion with Ron and the family. Ron is an inspiration, and has really shown how taking control of your diabetes can lead to a long and healthy life.”

To find out more about Type 1 diabetes visit