A Bognor woman living with diabetes is walking one million steps to raise money for charity following a difficult period in her life.
Laura Newman was diagnosed with type one diabetes in 2002 and has suffered several complications over the years, including with her eyesight.
But it was earlier this year, shortly after her husband of six years left her and she was forced to move from their army accommodation to her mother’s home in Bognor, that she contracted a stomach infection and fell seriously unwell.
The infection caused stomach paralysis and Laura was unable to keep down food, resulting in her spending 10 days in hospital hooked up to drips.
Laura said the help and support from the NHS diabetic team along with people from the charity Diabetes UK was ‘invaluable’.
“Just having to speak to who really understands,” she said. “Unless you have the condition or know someone with it, you don’t know how difficult it is.”
She was also grateful for the support of her best friend, her sister, her mother and her stepfather.
“They came to see me everyday, tried to keep my spirits up and made me feel safe again,” she said. “I couldn’t have managed without those four people.”
Once recovered, she decided she wanted to give something back and resolved to do the One Million Step Challenge. which runs from July to September and involves walking roughly 500 miles in total.
The 31-year-old has been trying to walk between 15,000 and 20,000 steps a day.
Her job as a support worker for disabled people with the charity Leonard Cheshire already involves a lot of walking and she enjoys taking her nine-and-a-half year old border collie Archie for strolls on the beach.
Laura said she finds walking ‘thereupetic’ though she admits: “It is a challenge for anyone who wasn’t very active – having to be very very active.”
However she is determined to prove to herself that she can do it, adding: “It’s got me out, and being outside and walking is better than being sat infront of the TV or on the sofa.”
As well as raising as much money as possible for Diabetes UK, Laura hopes to raise more awareness of the condition.
She said her message to people was ‘don’t assume’, adding: “Just because you can’t see an illness or a disability, doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have one.”
She said she had had ‘many negative comments’ over the years, particularly around injecting insulin, and said: “Its very hurtful. It can make you feel quite isolated,
“There is a stigma around it. The needs to be more awareness.”
To support Laura’s challenge, visit step.diabetes.org.uk/pages/laura-116