Lighthouse to Lighthouse 2017


Inspired by the work of JDRF Australia, Bridget & Gordon want to support them by raising much-needed funds for research and support of Type 1 Diabetes.

Gordon’s family have been living with T1D since 2007, when their son Callum was diagnosed. Read Gordon’s story here:

The reason for taking on this challenge goes back ten year when my son, Callum was eight years old.

There was a phone call at 7am on a Tuesday morning in May 2007 as I was preparing to go to work. The call was from our family doctor who, after receiving Callum’s blood test results, told us to go straight to Westmead Children’s Hospital.

It was the type of phone call that every parent dreads.

Upon arriving at there was a sickening realisation of the seriousness of the situation when the triage nurse informed us never ever to wait in the queue again, “you must come straight to the front of the queue to alert me”, she told us.

After more tests, the specialist endocrinologist, Dr. Neville Howard, arrived with an entourage to inform us that our precious eight year old boy was diagnosed with a lifetime chronic condition called type 1 diabetes.

The enormity of that diagnosis was initially too much to comprehend fully as we struggled to realise that we had gone from being a “normal” family to a type 1 diabetic (T1D) family. Initially the overwhelming emotion is one of anger, disbelief and then denial – this cannot be happening to us.

The team at Westmead Children’s Hospital focussed on the here and now. They explained what we needed to do to keep Callum alive and healthy for the next hour, then overnight and then the next day. My wife and I had to go on a steep learning curve about blood glucose levels, hypoglycaemia (low BGL), hyperglycaemia (high BGL), insulin, eating the right types of food, impact of exercise on your BGLs, sick days and so the list goes on. We are still learning about this chronic condition ten years later.

After being given the prescriptions we needed, I headed to the pharmacy – this was the first time I had been alone with my thoughts since Callum’s and our lives had changed forever. I could feel myself losing control as the awful realisation of the enormity of the situation dawned on me. Just then, a woman I had never met before noticed me with my huge bag full of the drugs and paraphernalia we needed for Callum. She walked up to me and asked, “has your child just been diagnose as a type 1?”. I was so lost in my own thoughts and turmoil it took me a moment to respond and finally I said, “yes”. She then told me that her son, who was only 2 years old had also been recently diagnosed. It then dawned on me that she was going to have to explain to her 2 year old son why she needed to stick needles into him 6-8 times a day to draw blood to test his blood glucose levels at least Callum was 8 years old and could better understand.

Finally we got out of hospital but had to deal with this monster called type 1 diabetes on our own. As a type 1 diabetic parent you can never quite relax, you are always checking and assessing:

  • Is he high?
  • Is he low?
  • When did he last eat?
  • What did he last eat?
  • When did he exercise last?
  • Has he got enough food for the whole day at school?
  • Is he emotional because of his diabetes or is he just being a teenager?

  • 10 years later and our team at Westmead Children’s Hospital has supported us through the ups and downs. We have visited them every 3 months to measure Callum’s hba1c level which essentially gives you a precise “score” as to how well you have been managing your diabetes. This result is more intense and important that any exam result that I had ever waited for in my life. This score tells you without any ambiguity as to how well we have managed Callum’s diabetes for the last 3 months and how healthy Callum has been.

    This is critical because the complications of type 1 are horrific e.g. Dead in bed syndrome (DIB) is a term used to describe the sudden unexplained deaths of young people with type 1 diabetes. The syndrome is characterised as when someone with insulin dependent diabetes has gone to bed seemingly perfectly fine and has been found dead in an undisturbed bed, eye problems, loss of limbs etc..

    Our team at Westmead has kept Callum alive, healthy and knowledgeable about how to best manage his condition. They also keep us updated on the latest equipment improvements for managing type 1 e.g. continuous BGL monitoring, wireless BG monitors, insulin pump improvements etc.

    We owe the Westmead team a huge debt of gratitude.

    This is why we are running, cycling, kayaking and giving our all for JDRF –

    Sydney Barrenjoey Lighthouse to the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

    900 kms. 2 weeks. 28 May – 10 June.

    Kayak. Run. Cycle

    Learn more and donate at