Our free Loughborough email updates are the best way to get headlines direct to your inbox
A dad who is running the length of the M1 to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes will be passing through Leicestershire today. Jamie Austin, 49, was motivated to take on the 220-mile challenge for his 12-year-old son, Henry, who was diagnosed with the disease back in 2020.
Jamie said the diagnosis had been "life-changing". "I didn't know or spot the symptoms that he had. He needed to drink a lot and go to the toilet a lot, he was never satisfied when he had a drink and was having to get up five and six times a night sometimes," he said.
Type 1 diabetes is where a lack of insulin causes the level of blood sugar to become too high. Jamie, who is raising money for diabetes research charity JDRF with the run, said he was unaware of the problems the conditions caused, NottinghamshireLive reported.
READ MORE: Schools across Leicester to close due to strikes with dozens many more to partially close
He said: "Suddenly we had to rush him to A&E, because it can be life threatening if it's not treated properly. The next thing we know after blood tests is that he's got type 1 diabetes, basically that your body is not creating enough insulin.
"But the part I didn't realise is that to get the balance right in your blood sugar, you have to be constantly taking blood samples or having a glucose monitor. You also have to be careful about what you eat and drink, constantly calculating and it is life changing.
"This is day and night, so we have to wake Henry in the night, so it is relentless and tiring for people with Type 1. It has changed everything, but he hasn't let it stop him from doing anything. He plays football, cricket, and is trying out for his black belt in karate.
"He has been brilliant, brave and pragmatic, he's really got on with it. But I didn't know anything about it before, I was learning as he did, that is why I want to raise awareness."
About 400,000 people in the UK are currently living with type 1 diabetes, including roughly 29,000 children. Jamie's run is taking him from north to south and yesterday - January 27 - he ran through Nottingham, where he was born, and got to Barrow upon Soar near Loughborough.
Today he will hope to make it down through Leicestershire. He said: "It's a huge commitment and it's an idea that came about because I wanted to do something big and challenging, I'm not a runner or part of any running club. I wanted to do something different and push myself, so I was quietly training.
"The M1 looms pretty large in Nottingham, and also we went to Sheffield Children's Hospital for his clinical trial, plus I quite like the ring of 'M1 for T1'.
"When I first started looking it was more than 200 miles, which made me think 'blimey', but I've planned some rests in and broken it up. I think there were some raised eyebrows when I told my family and friends - I think a few of them were worried about my sanity for a little bit, and I had to explain I wasn't actually planning on running on the M1 itself."
The run has already raised more than £8,000. JDRF fundraising and engagement director Terence Lovell said: “We are so inspired by Jamie’s challenge and his incredible fundraising efforts to support our work. Jamie's son Henry lives with type 1 diabetes, so he has first-hand experience of how tough it can be to manage the condition.
"His challenge will make a huge difference to our vital work, through raising much-needed awareness of type 1 as well as essential fundraising. The money raised will help us continue research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and support those living with the autoimmune condition.
"As a charity, we’re reliant on voluntary funds and we’re getting ever closer to finding cures. We hope Jamie’s story will inspire people to sponsor his run via Jamie Austin is fundraising for JDRF (justgiving.com), or take on their own challenge. You can find out more about ways to support and our work at JDRF UK - Type 1 diabetes research | JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity.”
Fo r the latest news from Leicestershire as well as alerts and top stories, sign up here