JDRF is honoured to appoint internationally renowned cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason as a global ambassador.
The 19 year-old British cellist captured the world’s attention during his performance at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“We are thrilled that Sheku has joined us as our global ambassador,” said Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive, JDRF. “We look forward to collaborating with him to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes – which is much misunderstood – and of our mission to find the cure.”
Sheku was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12, five years before he won BBC Young Musician 2016 and made his mark as one of the brightest young stars in classical music.
In January, Sheku released his debut album, Inspiration, which topped the classical charts and reached number 18 in the Official UK Album Charts. He performed in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle during the wedding ceremony of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May, which captured the attention of viewers across the world and catapulted him on to the global stage.
Having type 1 diabetes means Sheku has the added complication of constantly counting carbs, injecting precise doses of insulin and balancing his blood glucose levels to avoid life-threatening highs and lows before he performs and multiple times throughout each day to stay alive. When blood glucose levels drop too low, this is called hypoglycaemia – or a ‘hypo’ for short.
“Managing my type 1 diabetes does provide an extra challenge before I perform. Most musicians don’t have to think about avoiding hypos!” Sheku explains. “But playing at the Royal Wedding was awesome and I’m glad I can help raise awareness of the condition and of the type 1 diabetes charity, JDRF.”
“We are excited and honoured to have the support of such a talented, distinguished and remarkable international role model who shares our commitment to achieve a world without type 1 diabetes,” said Derek Rapp, President and CEO of JDRF US. “With Sheku’s support and through the power of his voice, we will raise global awareness for the importance of research to find life-changing breakthroughs and one day, a cure.”
As JDRF Global Ambassador, Sheku will help to highlight JDRF’s international research programme and lend his voice to enhance fundraising, advocacy and education efforts in the fight against type 1 diabetes.
Sheku will begin to collaborate on initiatives immediately. On 17th September, JDRF is staging a party at LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair in London with an auction. Sheku will be providing a private cello lesson to the highest bidder. The money raised on the evening from the event and the auction will support type 1 diabetes research and JDRF is extremely grateful to Sheku for donating this once-in-a-lifetime experience.