Five-year-old Hugo Stroud doesn’t have type 1 diabetes – but he’s committed to helping find the cure. His big sister Bia, who is nine, was diagnosed with the condition four years ago this month, and so little Hugo is a passionate supporter of both her and JDRF.
The Stroud family are well-known JDRF fundraisers in south London, with Hugo himself taking part in two London Bridges Walk to Cure Diabetes events. He gamely tackled the route via buggy, scooter and his dad Andrew’s shoulders.
Young siblings of children living with type 1 diabetes can face the challenge of their brother or sister receiving some inevitable extra parental attention, due to the demands of managing the condition.
When JDRF asked dad Andrew what it was like for Hugo to have a sister with type 1 diabetes, he said: “He knows that Bia needs to have sweets or juice at funny times and they are not treats but medicine because she is poorly (hypo). He doesn’t question this or whine for sweets for himself.”
He added: “Mealtimes always begin with testing Bia and carb counting her food, which Hugo is used to. We have a spare test kit in a kitchen drawer, and sometimes Hugo tests himself as well!”
Andrew explained: “Hugo will come and fetch us if she asks him to, and will also get her bag or her meter. When we were on injections instead of an insulin pump, he would sometimes help to get the needles out of the box. He comes along to the type 1 family support group meetings that I run, and gets involved with the other kids there.”
Hugo was also in the Parliament Square crowds to cheer on his father during the first Ride London 100 cycle event. Also, he tried to lend a hand at his big sister’s school during a cake and book sale for JDRF.
Liz Rowley, JDRF’s Regional Fundraiser for London, said: “People with type 1 diabetes often rely on their amazing families, so when you have a sibling who does everything they can to support you and your needs with type 1, that's a wonderful thing. I'm lucky to have a sister who has been there for me since my diagnosis at age four.
“So Sibling Day is a wonderful opportunity for these committed brothers and sisters to be thanked for everything they do – for their sibling, and for fundraising in their community.”
Find out how you and your family and friends can support JDRF in your local area here.
Siblings and type 1 diabetes research:
Brothers and sisters play a vital role in type 1 diabetes research. Dr Kathleen Gillespie of the University of Bristol is leading a JDRF-funded research study trying to understand why some people get type 1 diabetes and some do not. She explains 'Over the last 30 years our research has focused on relatives of children with type in diabetes. Brothers and sisters have made an enormous contribution; since 1985, 2482 brothers and sisters have joined the BOX study.'
'The information and vital blood samples they have given us has helped us work out who is at risk of type 1 diabetes. We are now using this information to help us understand why some people develop type 1 diabetes in early childhood while others are not diagnosed until adulthood, or indeed ever. If we can understand what these differences are, we may be able to harness this knowledge to slow or entirely prevent type 1 diabetes.'
The Barts Oxford (BOX) study has been running for 30 years recruiting people who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before they were 21 and their families in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Today, over 1800 families are taking part in the study. Without their long-term involvement in type 1 research, studies like Dr Gillespie's would not be possible, and we would be a lot further from our goal of preventing type 1 diabetes than we are today.