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Barry now aiming for rare 70 year medal


Barry Lawther who is aiming for a very special medal.A HARMONY Hill man believed to have lived the longest with type one diabetes in Northern Ireland is aiming to achieve one of the rarest awards ever handed out by Diabetes UK.

The John Macleod Medal is given only to type one sufferers who have been insulin-independent for 70 years.

Barry (75) from Harmony Hill has been a diabetic sufferer for 68 years and has already been presented with not only his 50 year medal, the Alan Nabarro Medal, but also the 60 year medal the Robert Lawrence Award.

Barry was just seven-years-old when he was first diagnosed with the relatively rare condition at the time, on Armistice Day, 1941. His consultant Dr FMB Allen, a paediatrician looked after him at the Children's Hospital for Sick Children for three months before he went privately to Dr Jack Smith at Musgrave and Clark Clinic. Dr Smith also incidentally looked after one of Northern Ireland's most famous diabetics Sir James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. It was while at Musgrave and Clark Clinic where his mother paid for private treatment under Dr Smith, when he was put on a very strict diet during a time of rationing - when the provision of a diabetic diet was difficult. All his food and liquids had to be meticulously measured and weighed, a system which has worked well for him for over 60 years.

Growing up Barry was always warned to stay away from cakes - a warning that he did not always follow.

"I was told when I went to birthday parties I had to avoid sweet things," said Barry. "But what my mother, who was a great baker, never knew when she was not looking I would get into her cake tin and slice off the thinnest piece of cake, so she would not miss it."

One of his most memorable events as a diabetic for Barry, was on World Diabetics Day where he was guest speaker at an event in Stormont hosted by Carmel Hanna, MLA and attended by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey, two years ago.

The former Captain of Malone Golf Club has never allowed his condition to stop him from doing anything. As a High Court Registrar he never took a day off in relation to his diabetes during his 39 year career.

He played cricket and tennis at a high level, renowned for being a great jiver, not to mention an equally great golfer with a handicap of five.

"I would never allow diabetes to hold me back from doing those things that I wanted to do," added Barry. "Even from an early age I refused to let it ruin my life."

He believes his strict diet and regular monitoring of his blood glucose levels have been the secret to a long and healthy life. "I have always had to weigh everything I eat from the porridge to potatoes and that system has always worked for me," he said. "I have still the same scales and measuring jug that I use when I was first diagnosed."

Barry decided that Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating programme, a system which though claimed to work for some people, did not suit him. He did change to a different system which involved analogue insulin's for a short time but this did not work for him. In fact he became quite ill and unstable and he reverted back to his original Neutral and Protamine Zinc insulin's. Barry would like to pay tribute to Professor David Hadden whose skill and experience were so vital to his well being for more than ten years.

Ulster Star