TWO people who suffer from diabetes are set to receive medals for successfully battling the condition for 50 years while living a full and active lives.

Margaret Hart, 67, from Southend, was diagnosed with the disease after developing an unquenchable thirst when she was just 15.

Now, 52 years later, she is still giving herself an insulin jab five times a day.

Margaret is now set to the Alan Nabarro medal from Diabetes UK for people who have lived with the disease for 50 years.

Russell Leek, 59, from Ashingdon, will join her in receiving the award.

Margaret said: “The nurses back then were very strict and it was no good being namby-pamby. I just practised on an orange and got on with it.”

The award  was named after a patient who spent his life battling discrimination against people with diabetes. Alan Nabarro was given six months to live when first diagnosed in 1922, but managed his condition for 55 years, thanks to the discovery of insulin.

Margaret has developed coeliac disease, a common associated condition of diabetes, which means she must keep to a gluten-free diet as well as a diet for diabetes.

But she refuses to let it get her down - she is a keen cyclist and is currently in training for walking her next half marathon.

Margaret said: “It is incredible how many advances have been made in diabetes over the last 50 years.

“I have been incredibly lucky with my health. Even if they found a cure for diabetes tomorrow I don’t suppose it would make a huge difference to my life – I would not go and pig out on chocolate.

“ It is a lifetime commitment to diet and I have never felt deprived.”

Russell was diagnosed a few months before his fourth birthday after his mother caught him drinking from the bathroom tap.

He said: “I was very fortunate in having a brilliant doctor, who used to call round at our home. He was a wonderful man and I owe him my survival.”

Consultant diabetologist at Southend Hospital Dr Philip Kelly said: “To manage one’s diabetes so well for 50 years is tremendous.

“At the time they were diagnosed advanced complications were common and life expectancy was often lowered.

“They would have been prescribed a diet, a lifestyle and a routine that few of us could adhere to for a day.

“ Their knowledge of their condition is excellent and they are superb role models for people with diabetes.”