EarlyBird Flies On!

EarlyBird’s future is looking bright. The EarlyBird Diabetes Trust has just received confirmation of a substantial donation from a private foundation, the Bright Future Trust, amounting to £130,000, which is 50% of the Study’s annual costs. Hot on the heels of the first came a second donation of £65,000 from another benefactor. While EarlyBird may not be back to full strength immediately, happily, its future now looks secure.

Twelve months ago, the research was in serious trouble until the first life saving injection of £100,000 came from the Bright Future Trust. But it was for one year only, and it had to be matched from other sources. In response, a major campaign was launched locally and nationally to secure funding for the Study, not only in the short term but for the longer term too, so that the team could get on with the research and escape the ‘stop-start’ of earlier years. One by one, donations large and small began to come in from all over, and have kept the Study on track.  

So impressed was the Bright Future Trust with the commitment of the EarlyBird Trust and performance of the research team, that it has pledged to repeat its donation of £130,000, not just for the coming year, but annually to the end of the Study –  provided again that the balance is found. Annual increments will be honoured, making the donation worth over £1m over six years. All the hard work over the last year to put together a consortium is beginning to pay off.  Not only is three-quarters of the funding for the next 12 months secure but, crucially, 50% of what will be needed until the end of the Study in 2013.

Before this year’s problems with funding, EarlyBird had already secured £1.2m to fund the first half of the Study, a sum that was largely raised by the research team, with the Trust helping out where it could.  The money came from Diabetes UK, Smith’s charity, the Department of Health, the pharmaceutical industry, other major grant making trusts and many generous donations from local individuals, clubs and organisations. Throughout, the Peninsula Medical School and Derriford hospital have provided invaluable support with accommodation and administrative back up for the Study.

These last twelve months have been the toughest ever as far as funding is concerned. We have to thank especially the people of Plymouth and the Southwest for their unflinching support, generosity and belief in the Study. Plymouth’s donations have bridged the gap at a crucial time. Without them, the Study would never have survived.
We have also had immense support from local personalities. Bill Martin and his staff at the Herald took up our cause last year with a vengeance and we thank them for bringing EarlyBird to the attention of so many. We are especially grateful to Steve Golding for his hard work behind the scenes and to Nick Barber and Steve Bowen at the Waterfront Restaurant, who generously hosted a charity lunch last Autumn.

The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce invited EarlyBird to address their members at last April’s Chamber Connect lunch, and we are indebted to Nigel Rowe and his team at DML for making EarlyBird one of this year’s official charities for this year’s Half-Marathon. Whilst it remains an immense puzzle that Labour Ministers at the Department of Health have chosen not to engage with us during the last year’s struggle, Alison Seabeck, MP for Devonport, has represented the interests of the Study tirelessly at Government level throughout the year.

The list of supporters has been endless, but particular thanks must go to our Honorary Campaign Director Kevin Craig and his team who have raised the Study’s profile with extraordinary skill and success, leading to national media coverage, House of Commons debate and even a slot on BBC Radio 4’s flagship The Today Programme.

Last, but by no means least, EarlyBird is hugely grateful to the youngsters themselves and to their schools, not just for taking part in the Study, but for bringing the funding crisis to public attention. They really have put the national spotlight on the good work that is going on in the Southwest.  The youngsters’ efforts were recognized when they won a prestigious special Youth in the Community award last November and were runners up for the Young Community Hero award in January this year. They are one in a million (or rather, 300 in a million).  

EarlyBird now has the opportunity to complete the next six years without the same financial worries that have overshadowed the last two or three. It has made, and will continue to make, major contributions to our understanding of diabetes, and we look forward to this next phase with immense anticipation and optimism.

The EarlyBird Diabetes Trust, which helps support the research, will remain as active as ever in raising those crucial matching funds each year.  It will also continue with the important task of supporting the families and youngsters involved in the Study, in recognition of their unique and invaluable contribution to diabetes research. This includes providing transport to Derriford where needed, thank you treats and activities for the EarlyBirds and extra help in the office to support the hard pressed team of nurses and researchers.

The Trust is always pleased to hear from volunteers who would like to help out one or two mornings a week, just for a couple of hours – making cups of tea, escorting youngsters to various parts of the hospital etc. If you think you would like to volunteer, or have any exciting fundraising ideas, please phone 01752 792552.
Phone this number too if you would like further details as to how you can ‘sponsor a child’.

You can use the links on the website to make a single or regular donation on-line.  


1. Special Youth Award for EarlyBirds

During the recent National Enterprise Week, the Plymouth Evening Herald organised a Youth in the Community award. This award aimed to celebrate and recognise those who are making a difference to their communities.

They were looking for a young person or persons, under 18 years of age, who were giving up their time to make life better for people around them, and we were asked if we would like to nominate a young person.

We said we couldn’t possibly choose one youngster, so we nominated not one but 300 very special youngsters – all the EarlyBird children to be precise!

The award ceremony took place at the Royal William Yard in Plymouth on November 24th. In the end, there were eight short-listed for this category, but to the delight of the children who were able to attend the presentation, the EarlyBird children were collectively awarded a splendid engraved trophy.

2. Prestigious Awards for EarlyBird Research Team

Alison Jeffery has just been awarded the 1st Novo Nordisk UK Nurses Research Fellowship in 2006.

Dr Daphne Su-Lyn Gardner won 1st prize at the Anglo/Dutch/Danish meeting for junior researchers in 2006.

Dr Jo Hosking won 1st prize in the Rank Prize Funds symposium for junior researchers in 2005.

Companies-could you sponsor an event for EarlyBirds?

Events like the Summer Bowling Party are very important as a means of motivating and thanking the children who are taking part in this valuable study. If your company would be interested in sponsoring such an event please phone Carolyn on 01752 792711

July 2006
May 2006
March 2006
EarlyBird around the World
Press Release – Boost for Study Funds
Sam Smith EarlyBird marathon.
EarlyBird to feature in State-of-the-Art symposium in Munich.