Published on 16 November 2023

DRWF celebrate World Diabetes Day with launch of travel advice for people living with diabetes in partnership with Bournemouth Airport.

To mark World Diabetes Day on November 14th, DRWF in partnership with Bournemouth Airport have launched a campaign to raise awareness of travelling with diabetes, and a new resource specifically to help people to plan their trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience..

Launched at Bournemouth airport, and being rolled out at Exeter and Norwich airports, the campaign centres around a checklist for passengers with diabetes.

The guide provides all the information people living with diabetes need to know to prepare themselves for every eventuality when travelling.

The wallet-sized Diabetes Travellers Checklist includes information on how to spot the signs of high or low blood glucose levels, and phrases in other languages to explain that you have diabetes.

The campaign is supported by Douglas Cairns, a pilot, who was forced to quit his RAF career when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Douglas Cairns from Hove was 25 and had recently qualified as a jet pilot, when his condition came to light in 1989.

He was forced to give up his boyhood dream of flying for the military, and at the time was unable to pilot any aircraft because of strict Civil Aviation Authority rules about flying with insulin-treated diabetes.

DRWF Team and others, holding the new Diabetes Travel Checklist at Bournemouth Airport

Douglas said: “It was a very bitter blow. On the same day I was literally told by the doctor that I had type 1 diabetes, and I used to be a pilot. With the risk of going low on blood sugar, my flying days were over.”

Following improvements in treatment and changes in the law, Douglas became the first pilot with type 1 diabetes to complete a round-the-world flight in 2003.

He co-founded the campaign group Pilots with Diabetes, to advocate for others in his position to fly privately and professionally worldwide.

Douglas has completed further challenges to prove that diabetes is no barrier to ambition or capability – among them, landing at the north pole and smashing the record for landing in every state in the US, from 15 days to five.

Douglas said: “It was lots of challenging, endurance related projects, which would highlight what we can do with diabetes – it need not limit the scope of anyone's dreams and ambitions. When it comes to travelling, whether you are a pilot or a passenger, as long as you are well prepared and thinking ahead, there is no need to get concerned about it at all."

Sarah Tutton, Chief Executive of DRWF, said: “Diabetes is a complex condition that can be both life limiting and life threatening, but all types of diabetes can be managed effectively with early diagnosis, the right treatment, information and support.

“We are delighted to be working with Bournemouth Airport because travelling can be very challenging for people with diabetes, especially when flying and having to navigate airport security while carrying medicines, wearable devices essential to insulin delivery or blood glucose monitoring and needing to carry foods to eat or drink to maintain stable blood glucose levels.”

Steve Gill, Managing Director of Bournemouth Airport, said: “We pride ourselves on supporting passengers with hidden disabilities to make their experience through the airport as safe and enjoyable as possible.

“There are a potential 60,000 people with diabetes using the airport every year.

"By working with Sarah and her team at DRWF our goal is to raise general awareness of the condition and ensure that our staff know how to provide help and support if required. It’s another example of how regional airports continually innovate to provide the highest standards of assistance and care.”

The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled in 20 years to 4.9 million, with an estimated 537 million people affected globally.

To find out more and request a copy of the DRWF pre-travel checklist for passengers with diabetes click here
Read more about the launch of the campaign here

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