JDRF ambassador, Ella Marsden, to receive a British Citizen Award

Posted on 17 January 2019

JDRF ambassador Ella Marsden

JDRF ambassador Ella Marsden is to receive a British Citizen Award for her commitment to raising awareness of type 1 diabetes.

The British Citizen Awards are presented each year to those who have gone to extraordinary lengths with charity or voluntary work.

The 17-year-old from West Yorkshire was nominated for the award by JDRF’s Development Manager Chris Normington, and only a limited number of those nominated go on to receive it.

It is the second award that Ella has received. In 2016 she won Yorkshire Teenage Fundraiser at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards, for her tireless work to banish stigmas and misconceptions about type 1 diabetes, while also dealing with the challenges of the condition herself.

Here Ella and her mum Debbie tell JDRF about the hard work and dedication that she is being recognised for.

Ella: “Making sure that people around me know what type 1 diabetes is, is so important to me. Everyone around me is like a guardian of my wellbeing – if they don’t know about my condition then it’s an issue for my own safety. My circle of friends need to be able to take care of me.

“I believe that the media is still quite far behind on type 1 diabetes. I will never give up on raising awareness, there’s always an opportunity to tell someone about it and I love to talk!

“It was amazing just to have been nominated for this award. I’m part of a large community of people living with type 1 diabetes and I see this award as recognition for everyone’s hard work.

“Receiving it will be incredible and I will accept it on behalf of the many people who do such amazing work, supporting the type one diabetes community and JDRF.”

The work Ella has done began with a promise that her mum Debbie made to her when she was first diagnosed. Here Debbie explains what the promise was:

“What strikes you as a parent when your child is diagnosed with the condition is how little you know.

“It can be extremely overwhelming but I said to Ella, while we can’t take it away from you, I promise that we will do all we can to support that charity that is helping to fund the cure.

“We got into fundraising straight away and got everyone else we know involved too. This really helped with raising awareness, which will always be our main goal.

“Until then, people would say that Ella looked too young to have diabetes or that she didn’t look overweight. It was clear we needed everyone to know more about type 1, in order for us to have a support network of people who understood – and it all just snowballed from there. In raising awareness, came raising money.

“When Ella goes out and raises awareness, people connect with her because she lives with it – she can show them the technology she is using, which really impresses people.

“It also brings home how real this is, that without the tech she could lose her life – but also how everyone’s hard work and commitment to JDRF is helping people with type 1 manage the condition more easily.

“Unfortunately you only become connected with JDRF when you know someone with type I diabetes. Without knowing someone with this condition, the word diabetes is just an umbrella term – we need to challenge people’s perceptions of it.

“The best way we can do that is by starting the dominoes effect – educating more people beyond our circle – which is our aim with our events. We are still shocked by the number people who come up and say how much they don’t know about it.”

JDRF’s Chief Executive in the UK, Karen Addington, has recorded this video message for Ella:

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