A local Lisburn hero who has used Facebook to help hundreds of parents struggling to come to terms with their child’s diabetes and who works tirelessly to increase support in the community has become the winner of a new volunteering award, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.
Kathryn Cooney, from Lisburn in Northern Ireland, has spent hundreds of hours reaching out to parents of children living with Type 1 diabetes over Facebook and e-mail. Over late nights, she has helped parents come to terms with the impact the condition has on lives and offered them support, advice and hope.
Kathryn is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding and inspiring individuals who are having a positive impact in their community. Each day, someone across the country receives the award in recognition of their remarkable achievements.
Kathryn’s daughter Sarah became critically ill with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, almost dying as her blood glucose rose to life threatening levels. This inspired Kathryn to begin volunteering for Diabetes UK where she is now a Service Champion. She has been instrumental in setting up a new Facebook support group, and also arranges to meet families as often as needed, when they need support. In 2012 Kathryn was successful in helping to reduce waiting times in some Health Trusts for children needing insulin pumps to fewer than 6 months. The pumps remove the need for children to inject insulin through syringes, usually four times a day, for the rest of their lives.
Kathryn sits on local care user panels, providing important perspective on how diabetes care can improve. She organises family days away for people affected by diabetes where they are able to meet others facing the same challenges and can offer each other informal advice, tips and emotional support.
Prime Minister David Cameron said,
“Having a child diagnosed with Diabetes can be heart-breaking. Parents naturally have lots of questions and can feel uncertain and alone. Kathryn has been instrumental in working with parents online and in person to show them that it is possible to live well with diabetes. She is an amazing pillar of the community and a real inspiration. I am pleased to give this UK Point of Light to Kathryn in recognition of her remarkable achievements.”
Kathryn is the eighty-seventh winner of the new Points of Light award which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. , Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.
On receiving the award, Kathryn said:
“I am thrilled to have received the Point of Light award for doing something I feel so passionately about. I think it is so important that families get together to share experiences of living with Type 1 diabetes helping parents, children with type 1 and their siblings feel supported”
Lynette Irvine who has been helped by Kathryn through Diabetes UK said:
“I’m so glad Kathryn is receiving this award. When my son went on a long waiting list for an insulin pump she gave me the criteria that Trust’s use and the names of people to contact straight away. Curtis got the pump within 6 months and it changed our lives. This lady is both tireless and relentless when it comes to helping others with diabetes. I really don’t know were she gets the time and the energy yet she asks for nothing in return.”