A DIABETIC who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just six years old has been awarded a medal in recognition of her courage and perseverance in handling the condition.

Julie Robbins, from Banbury, has been handed the Alan Nabarro medal from Diabetes UK for living with the condition for more than five decades.

The 60-year-old remembers her diagnosis in 1963 and has been injecting insulin every day since.

She said: "I was six and had been losing weight – to the point that I was the same size as my three year-old brother, so we knew something was wrong.

"It was a shock to the family when the doctors gave us the news.

"No one really knew anything much about the condition at the time but we all just got on with it."

People with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. It is not known what causes the condition, but it is not to do with being overweight and currently it isn't preventable.

It is treated with daily insulin doses, taken either by injections or via an insulin pump.

The medal is awarded to people who have lived with diabetes for 50 years in honour of Alan Nabarro, who waged a lifelong battle against discrimination against people with diabetes.

Ms Robbins, an Oxford admin worker, added: "Living with diabetes for 50 years has been hard with many challenges along the way.

"It takes perseverance but, I haven’t let it define me or stop me from leading a full and healthy life. Managing the condition well is the key.

"So much has changed for the better in terms of treatment. In those days, we had urine testing strips which weren’t very reliable but that’s all we had to test our blood sugar levels.

"It’s a lot easier now with blood glucose meters and insulin pumps.

"Technology is moving very fast and I’m sure in another ten years there will be yet more advances."

Ms Robbins said her advice for others recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is to eat well, exercise and to make sure people at work and home are aware of your condition.

Diabetes UK South East regional head Jill Steaton said: "Julie is an inspiration, and has really shown how taking control of your diabetes can lead to a long and healthy life.

"Diabetes is a serious and complex condition. Poorly managed it can lead to devastating but avoidable complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke.

"Too many people suffer these complications unnecessarily.

"With the right care throughout their lives people can manage the condition well and reduce the risk of developing complications."