A VOLUNTEER’S efforts to improve diabetes services in Swindon were recognised as he was honoured with a top accolade from a charity.

Stephen MacMahon, of Eldene, won the Supporting Others Award at the Diabetes UK’s regional Inspire Awards, held in Taunton on Saturday, March 8.

The 64-year-old became involved with the charity when his wife Helen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 12 years ago.

He is now a service champion, which means he represents Diabetes UK at NHS meetings.

Service champions are the charity’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Stephen has devoted many hours each week to challenge poor service at healthcare forums.

His lobbying has led to major improvements to diabetes care across Swindon, the setting up of a new patients’ website and the launch of an expert clinical network to improve NHS services.

“I was pleased and surprised to win this award which recognises the work we are trying to do to improve care for people with diabetes in Swindon,” he said.

“We know that we still have a long way to go to get the services that people with the condition need.

“But there are meetings coming which I hope will lead to improvements.”

Following Helen’s diagnosis, the couple joined Swindon Diabetes UK support group at the Broadgreen Centre and were both stunned to discover the poor state of care.

“When we got involved we found out the statistics and that’s when we became more active,” he said.

“Just three years ago we still had almost double the national average for lower limb amputations in Swindon.

“The national average was 10 per 100,000 people and in Swindon it is 19 a year.

“We now have made sure there are more podiatrists in the community and at the hospital but improvements are needed.”

Phaedra Perry, regional manager at Diabetes UK in the South West, said: “Stephen has been a fantastic ambassador for Diabetes UK and has set about improving diabetes services with tenacity and expertise. He has a brilliant knowledge of the local services and has campaigned hard for all people with diabetes.”

To obtain information about becoming a volunteer for Diabetes UK, people should email south.west@diabetes.org.uk or call 01823 448260.


  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced.
  • People are more likely to develop diabetes if they:
  • are over 40 years old
  • have a diabetic relative
  • are overweight or obese.
  • The risk increases with age. This may be because older people gain weight and exercise less. Maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly are ways of preventing diabetes.
  • A child who has a parent with type 2 diabetes has about a one-in-three chance of also developing it.
  • The condition is more common in South Asian, African and African-Caribbean communities than in the general UK population.
  • Women have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if their waist measures 31.5 inches (80cm) or more. Asian men with a waist size of 35 inches (90cm) or over have a higher risk, as do white or black men with a waist size of 37 inches (94cm) or over.
  • If diabetes is not treated, it can lead to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease and foot problems.