A BAR manager who was diagnosed with a life-changing illness aged three is hoping to help others with the condition.

Nathan Barnes has been forced to manage Type 1 diabetes all his life.

The condition, which is often inherited from parents, means that the body is unable to produce insulin – the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

Nathan, a 42-year-old deputy bar manager from Highworth, has set up an online support group for those who have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and their families.

Called Stabilize, the group is currently hosted on Facebook – but Nathan has plans for in-person meet-ups.

The group is recognised by national charity Diabetes UK.

Nathan says he is uniquely qualified to provide support to others, having lived with diabetes for 39 years.

“It has its highs and lows – just like your sugar levels,” Nathan said. “It’s had its complications, because I didn’t look after it during my teenage years.”

Aged 21, he was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the eyes and is caused by damage to the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye.

Nathan, who has had laser eye treatment to help his sight, said: “It's affected my vision – not drastically, but I can’t sew or do things like threading a needle.”

Asked what advice he’d give his teenage self, Nathan said it would be to be more open with his parents and doctors. “Everybody wants to have their cake and eat it. But if you do that, you’ve got to know exactly where your sugar levels are.”

The deputy bar manager at East Wichel’s The Bayberry wants those in Swindon with the condition to sign up to the group. “I’m hoping the more people who can like the Facebook page, the easier it will be to set up group meetings,” Nathan said.

A keen fundraiser, Nathan managed to convince his brother’s band, Go Moriarty, to donate all the profits from the sale of their recent iTunes album to Diabetes UK – with around £5 from each album sale going to the charity.

“I thought it was a brilliant way of raising money,” said Nathan.

To sign up to the Stabilize diabetes support group, visit: www.facebook.com/stabilizediabetesuk.