Local man takes big strides for Diabetes UK

Graeme Smith

A father-of-two will be doing the One Million Step Challenge for Diabetes UK a year after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes following a heart attack.

Graeme Smith, 44, who works in cyber security for Bentley Motors, is taking part because he wants to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes and encourage people to make healthier choices with their food and also get more active.

The event takes place between 1 July and 30 September, and invites people to push themselves out of their comfort zone, by taking one million steps over three months and getting sponsored for every stride. 

It will take Graeme at least 10,000 steps a day to reach his million.

He has been preparing for the challenge by walking along a canal near his home with his family and said:

“Out of the blue I suffered a heart attack last year and my consultant asked me why I had not mentioned my Type 2 diabetes. That was the first time I realised I had the condition. I had experienced no symptoms like being thirsty or going to the toilet a lot and there was no family history.

“Shockingly my consultant told me that looking at the damage to my heart, he believed I had been living with diabetes for a number of years and this is what had caused the damage to my heart.

“It was lying in wait for me like a ticking time bomb and then exploded without any warning. I was a little overweight and my job is deskbound, so I certainly didn’t do as much exercise as I should, but we eat healthily as a family and yet this was happening to me in my 40s.”

Graeme had a triple heart bypass in August and since then has started making sure he takes regular exercise to get fitter and healthier and manage his diabetes. He has lost two stone and has even inspired a number of his colleagues to also take on the challenge.

Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. There are an estimated 4.7 million people living with diabetes in the UK. If not managed well, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications, including sight loss, amputation, kidney failure and stroke. With the right treatment, knowledge and support people living with diabetes can lead a long, full and healthy life.

Siobhan Clifford, Diabetes UK West Midlands Fundraiser, said:

“We’re really grateful to Graeme for supporting our work to fund ground-breaking research, care services and campaigns that can change the lives of those living with diabetes.

“The One Million Step Challenge is perfect if you want to take steps towards a healthier you. You can take on the challenge alone, or better still, get your family, friends and colleagues involved. You can walk it, jog it or dance it. How you complete your steps is up to you. The money you raise while you do it will fund our fight for a world where diabetes can do no harm.”

To sponsor Graeme visit www.step.everydayhero.com/uk/the-fit-flops

To sign up for the One Million Step Challenge go to www.diabetes.org.uk/step