The first 20 years of DRWF in the UK and the beginnings of the charity by DRWF Chief Executive Sarah Tutton.
This year we are thrilled to be celebrating our 20th Anniversary in the UK. Little did our co-founders realise how DRWF would grow when they started the first group in Washington DC, USA back in 1993.
Like many charities, DRWF was borne out of a very personal connection with a debilitating health condition and a deep desire to help others.
Mike Gretschel and his wife Maureen have a large, loving family with four children and 14 grandchildren. Mike has worked, along with his business partner John, for more than 35 years in the field of international fundraising.
When two of Mike’s children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he was inspired to use his day-to-day expertise and connections to raise funds to support the medical research that he hoped would bring better understanding, better treatments and ultimately a cure for his children and for others living with the condition around the world.
Mike and John worked tirelessly with like-minded parents, families, friends and professionals to raise money for diabetes charities that funded vital research. However, they felt that whilst they were funding the future understanding and treatment of diabetes, they were lacking in the daily support and tools necessary to manage life with a chronic, often debilitating and indeed life-threatening, condition.
Information, support, education
They wanted to do more on a practical basis to ensure that people with diabetes had access to information, support and educational programmes to reduce the risk of associated complications and live the best quality of life possible, until research finds a cure. Together with their wives, they founded the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation in the USA.
As the number of people with diabetes around the world was rising rapidly, they considered creating an international Diabetes Wellness Network, where small DRWF groups were created in other countries in order to share expertise and collaborate on awareness campaigns, support programmes and contribute collectively to international research projects. That plan came to fruition with the incorporation of DRWF as a registered charity in the UK in January 1998.
DRWF around the world
The success of the US and UK groups continued and enabled the international network to grow.
New groups were established in France in 2005, Sweden in 2008, Finland in 2012, and our newest addition in Norway this year. Each group works autonomously, with no legal connection, but has an overlap in trustees to ensure consistency of mission and development.
DRWF has committed more than £11.5 million to research in the UK and around the world in pursuit of better understanding, treatment and management of diabetes and we hope that the addition of Norway will enable us to expand our Network of supporters and collaborators in pursuit of our end goal – a cure for diabetes.
Collectively, the International Diabetes Wellnees Network of charities has committed more than €60 million (approximately £54 million) to awareness, education and research funding since the first group was established in the US in 1993.
In the UK, DRWF has gained a reputation for being truly patient focused in its provision of diabetes advisory literature, publications and an award-winning Diabetes Wellness event programme.
The charity’s annual research funding round is subject to a rigorous peer review process, supported by a multi-disciplinary panel of diabetes clinicians and scientists, which ensures the viability of the research projects and validates our spending on the best research in the UK.
We are investing in a brighter future for people with diabetes and we are only able to do that with the amazing support of our donors, fundraisers, volunteers, staff and trustees.
Thank you to everyone that has played a part, and continues to do so, in supporting the work of DRWF.