Published on 9 August 2023

We look back at key milestones in our 25-year history.


DRWF is incorporated as a registered charity and company limited by guarantee – our objective “to raise awareness and assist people living with diabetes and similar or related conditions, their incidence, cause, treatment, avoidance and relief”.

Dr Roslyn Elson, then Managing Editor of Practical Diabetes International, was recruited as Executive Director of DRWF.


Debra Peett and Sarah Tutton are recruited, working just a few hours a week each, to get activities underway.

The charity commences its initial fundraising programme raising its first £1 million by November 1999.

The first small research awards are made, eight in total, to various institutions in the UK, totalling £84,610.

DRWF launches the Diabetes Wellness News, a subscriber-based monthly newsletter containing specially commissioned self-management articles, news and research updates.

Debra Wellness Day South 22
Sarah Headshot (1)

DRWF Supporter Services Officer Debra Peet (left) and DRWF Chief Executive Sarah Tutton (right). 


The charity awards its first three-year Non-Clinical Research Fellowship, to Dr Luke Chamberlain (Glasgow) for £106,456.


The charity awards its first three-year Clinical Research Fellowship, to Dr Karen Anthony (King’s College London) for £120,000.

As part of a new outreach programme, DRWF holds a Diabetes Wellness Retreat providing expert diabetes healthcare workshops, as well as a social programme, for people with all types of diabetes, in Chichester, West Sussex.


The charity sets up a multidisciplinary Research Advisory Board (RAB) and launches an annual research funding programme of three-year Fellowships and one-year Research Grant awards.

The RAB is chaired by Professor David Matthews, Oxford, whose research focuses on type 2 diabetes. Professor Matthews was also deputy co-ordinator of the Executive and Policy Advisory Committee for the UK Prospective Study of Diabetes (UKPDS) and founder member of the Oxford Health Alliance.


DRWF becomes a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) establishing robust peer review processes for applications for its annual research funding awards.

The first Active with Diabetes Walking Holiday is held at Hassness in the Lake District. A support team of diabetes specialist nurses and a podiatrist advise on how to make walking part of a daily exercise programme whilst managing diabetes medications and blood glucose levels accordingly.

A new range of diabetes information leaflets are introduced to the charity’s portfolio of resources.



DRWF makes an unprecedented award of £1.4 million to the Nuffield Department of Surgery to establish a Human Islet Isolation Facility at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford.


DRWF makes a grant for the set-up of a sister group in France, L’ Association pour la recherche sur le diabète (ARD), in order to grow the International Diabetes Wellness Network.

With a commitment to islet cell research and transplant, the charity makes a multi-year grant in collaboration with groups in the US and France in support of the Spring Point Project (Wisconsin) which seeks to find an alternative, sustainable supply of islets suitable for human transplant.


The DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility is launched in Oxford, which marks a long-standing commitment to islet cell research and transplant for the charity.

Professor Paul Johnson at his research lab.

Professor Johnson is the Director of the Islet Transplant Programme at Oxford, one of the leading clinical and research centres for over 30 years. 


DRWF supports the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association (IPITA) meeting in Minneapolis demonstrating its desire to support international knowledge sharing in this emerging field of diabetes research.


The NHS make clinical funding available for Islet Cell Transplants for a selection of people with type 1 diabetes, meaning that the DRWF Islet Isolation Facility in Oxford becomes the key provider of islets for this national treatment programme.

The first Diabetes Wellness Day South is held – a change to the ad hoc Diabetes Wellness Workshops that the charity had previously held, with an established home in Southampton, serving the south coast.

DRWF provides an institutional grant of £81,000 for the completion of the Stephanie Marks Diabetes Resource Centre at St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey.

The charity makes a grant for the set-up of a sister group in Sweden, the Diabetes Wellness Network Sverige (DWNS), in order to grow the International Diabetes Wellness Network.

DRWF 25 year logo.

Celebrating 25 years of Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation

This year we are hosting 'United Through Diabetes' to mark the charity’s 25th anniversary year. This unique one-stop-shop of everything diabetes will have specific programme content for people of all ages living with every type of diabetes as well as family members, carers, and healthcare professionals.

Click here to visit the event page


DRWF gains the Department of Health Information Standard accreditation for its adult health and social care information. This is a Kitemark which demonstrates that patient information goes through a peer review process, is appropriately written for its intended audience, clinically evidenced/ referenced and up to date.

As part of the Diabetes Wellness Event programme, the first Wellness Day North is held in Hartlepool, serving the diabetes community in the northeast.


DRWF gains the Department of Health Information Standard accreditation for its adult health and social care information. This is a Kitemark which demonstrates that patient information goes through a peer review process, is appropriately written for its intended audience, clinically evidenced/ referenced and up to date.

As part of the Diabetes Wellness Event programme, the first Wellness Day North is held in Hartlepool, serving the diabetes community in the northeast.

Hartlepool DWDN 2018 (2)

DRWF staff and volunteers at our Wellness Day North event in Hartlepool. 


The charity launches a new website focused on providing access to information resources, news and research updates with a “community” feel.

DRWF plays an integral part in the set-up of a Research Advisory Board for its sister group in Sweden. This is to ensure a consistency of research funding and to enable robust peer review processes to be adopted across Sweden and a newly established group in Finland.


DRWF is shortlisted in the Best Use of Web category at the Charity Times Awards.


DRWF attends the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual conference in Stockholm with colleagues from Diabetes Wellness Network Sverige, to meet with DRWF-funded researchers from around the world.


The charity is invited to become a key sponsor of the newly established Diabetes Professional Care (DPC) conference at Olympia, London. This event supports the upskilling of diabetes and related healthcare professionals, for whom the event is free to attend.

Expert diabetes discussion panel

Professor Partha Kar (right) is one of our guest speakers at our United Through Diabetes wellness day in September. 


DRWF is shortlisted in the Empowering People with Diabetes in Effective Self-Management category of the Quality in Care (QiC) Diabetes Awards going on to gain a highly commended award.

The charity also goes on to win the Judges’ Special Award, from all entries received across all categories, for providing an outstanding educational event programme for people with diabetes.

20 Year Anniversary Logo


In 2018, DRWF celebrated its 20th anniversary. The charity’s first research award was made in 1999 for a small equipment grant and since that time has committed more than £12 million to diabetes research in the UK and as part of the International Diabetes Wellness Network around the world.

DRWF is shortlisted in the Charity of the Year category at the Asian Voice Charity Clarity awards.

Swedish study, led by Leif Groop, Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Lund University, and retired Chair of the DRWF Research Advisory Board in Sweden, proposed a new classification system for different types of diabetes.

The system replaced the current diagnosis of either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and identified five different subcategories, which could help healthcare professionals predict risk of serious complications and improve treatment.


DRWF funded the first Diabetes Wellness Family Camp in partnership with Over The Wall, specifically for families with children with type 1 diabetes aged from birth to 17. The weekend camp was attended by 21 families.


The Covid-19 pandemic hit the world and affected the delivery of all our campaigns, and so we teamed up with Diabetes Professional Care (DPC), the UK’s leading national diabetes annual event for healthcare professionals, to provide an innovative virtual conference.

The new first-of-its-kind event was entitled United Through Diabetes and held on World Diabetes Day – 14th November 2020 and had more than 1,500 attendees from all over the world.


2021 marked the 100th-year anniversary of the discovery of insulin – a landmark moment for people living with diabetes worldwide.

DRWF celebrated 100 years of insulin from World Diabetes Day on 14th November 2021, with a week-long programme of online presentations bringing together healthcare professionals and the wider diabetes community. DRWF collaborated with DPC to present the second United Through Diabetes virtual event.

Read about the discovery of insulin in our special news article which celebrates the 100th year anniversary of the medical breakthrough. 


Banting and Best


DRWF research funding recipients gave an insight into how important research funding, such as the three-year Fellowships and one-year Pump Priming awards, can make a huge difference to people living with all types of diabetes in a specially produced video:

Watch the film here

Success stories featured in the DRWF documentary film, highlighting the need to continue funding research in the UK, premiered on World Diabetes Day 2022, 14th November.

Watch the film here

DRWF was delighted to welcome guests back to our first in-person educational events since the pandemic hit, at the Diabetes Wellness Day South.

The return of in-person events followed a challenging couple of years due to the global pandemic. Later in the year the 10th Diabetes Wellness Day North was held in Hartlepool.


DRWF launches United Through Diabetes, The BIG Wellness Day, a new event reaching a wider diabetes community as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations. This inaugural event will take place at Chesford Grange, Kenilworth, Warwickshire on Saturday, 16th September.

More information and link to register your place here

As DRWF celebrates 25 years of activity this year, our Diabetes Wellness News also marks the milestone of a quarter of a century, with a new-look seasonal Bumper Edition. The Spring edition of Diabetes Wellness News was the first issue in a new quarterly format.

Your kind gifts have meant that together, we have raised more than £80 million and spent around 82p in every £1 on awareness, education and research funding. Together we are investing in a brighter future for people with diabetes.


For more information about DRWF-funded research visit here
Article originally published in the Summer 2023 edition of Diabetes Wellness News. For more information and to subscribe visit here

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