No matter what attributes you look for in a role model, you’ll be able to find a number of names in the diabetes community that provide inspiration.

Here at, we’ve compiled a list of the DCUK crew’s role models, who explain how their heroes have influenced them and why.

Jack: Gary Mabbutt – Footballer with type 1 diabetes

“Growing up I had delusions of grandeur to play football at a similar level to Gary Mabbutt, who had type 1 diabetes his entire career but went on to play for England and win the FA Cup.

“My parents also managed to get Gary to write me a letter when I was younger explaining what it was like to grow up with type 1 diabetes, and that it shouldn’t stand in your way. I didn’t grow up to be a footballer, but Gary often springs to mind in moments of frustration regarding my own type 1.”

Benedict: Ernest Sterzer – Survived the Holocaust with type 1 diabetes


“Ernest Sterzer is my inspiration. When it comes to the battle to live with diabetes, Ernest perhaps had to fight harder than anyone else.

“Ernest managed to survive the Nazi concentration camps with type 1 diabetes, sometimes going a number of days without insulin. The fact he was able to access insulin at all was a near miracle in itself.”

Kieran: Tom Hanks – Actor with type 2 diabetes

“My favourite diabetes hero is Tom Hanks. Tom regards his type 2 diabetes as “part of his life” and that he “gets on just fine with it”. Furthermore, he is also quite humorous when it comes to his diet, saying: “Pizza is the most delightful thing ever invented and it’s – for me – diabolically dangerous.”

“Tom believes he was inclined to get diabetes, genetically on top of his previous life style since seven years old. Another one of Tom’s comments on his diabetes is: “It’s controllable. Something is going to kill us all eventually.”

 Kurt: Frederick Banting – Scientist who discovered insulin


“An obvious choice, I know, but hopefully not for obvious reasons. While the end product of Banting’s research was, of course, huge, I think his his character was just as admirable.

“Banting and Charles Best, who ran the laboratory, and with whom Banting shared half of his Nobel Prize money – didn’t seek a patent for their discovery. Instead, they sold the rights to the University of Toronto for $1, so insulin could be available to anyone who needed it.

“Frederick Banting was not only a remarkable scientist, but a perfect example of a noble, humanistic attitude to healthcare.”

Beth: Team Novo Nordisk

“My diabetes role models are the Team Novo Nordisk cycling team because they do not let their diabetes get in the way of doing something they enjoy (no matter how physically demanding it is!).

“The team have such amazing achievements under their belts and prove that with careful monitoring and preparation there really isn’t much that diabetes can stand in the way of. I wonder if they’re looking for an extra member of their team… ”

Matt: Sir Steve Redgrave – Olympic gold medallist with type 2 diabetes

“Sir Steve Redgrave is an inspiration because not only was he one of the most successful British Olympians in history, he managed to win his final gold medal despite being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes just a few years previously.

“Rowing is a highly demanding sport, and to be able to manage his diabetes well during training would have been hard enough, let alone going on to win another Gold. His performance showed that diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back – going on to be the best in the world in his sport. He managed really well with his condition, and showed that people with diabetes can still take part in sport, at any level.”

James: Susan Boyle – Singer with type 2 diabetes

“Susan burst onto the Britain’s Got Talent stage and caught everyone by surprise with her incredible voice. After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she had to kick her chocolate habit and joked: “It’s too fattening anyway!’

“As well as keeping her diabetes stable, she lives life at the same time. She is a determined person and doesn’t let anything get in her way, or let anyone put her down. I aspire to have her attitude to life.”

We want you to share your role models with the hashtag #ready2role on Facebook, Twitter or on the Forum

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