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16 October 2014

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Cycles and Bicycles

By Alastair Duncan
June 2004, Pontarddulais
A digital story from Capture Wales

Life's sweet

Even though Alastair and his sister have both got diabetes, they prove that no matter what, life's sweet.

"I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed. The vicar, Dr. Dewar, cycled all the way over the hills from Helen's Bay to Dundonald Hospital to see me. I wasn't on my deathbed but I was impressed and touched by his dedication. My little sister was only nine when, a year or two later, she was also diagnosed with diabetes. We found it all difficult, not just injections but giving up puddings and sweets as well.

I learnt to inject myself by practising on an orange and used a big stainless steel and glass syringe. It has to be stored in industrial meths. Nowadays, I use a cartridge pen injector - it's so easy.

I reckon I was dead lucky to survive my student days, what with all the things that students get up to. I felt trapped by my diabetes then - I couldn't go off anywhere at the drop of a hat. I had to think first and plan it out, remember my insulin and so on. Despite this, I did tour Europe with my friend, William. However, my sister Anna, travelled the world on a bicycle - crossing the Sahara; touring Asia; living in Botswana. I admire her for that.

While Anna was cycling, I was starting a new cycle of my own - a family with Julie. First Ellen, then Hannah. My work, my tapestries took on the theme of regeneration too. Now Anna has started on that journey as well and says that it's her biggest adventure yet - giving birth to Maurice Duncan Cooper."

Alastair Duncan

Please tell us a little about yourself.
Born in Scotland, I grew up in Belfast, trained, lived and married in England, and have been living in Wales for 20 years. I am a diabetic and have been working as an artist in education for 20 years as well as exhibiting widely.

What's your story about?
My story is about how my, and my sister's diabetes has affected my life and that of others around me ... or perhaps, how it has not affected my life! I had a phone call about the workshops whilst waiting for my appointment at the diabetic clinic - it seemed the obvious subject once I got thinking about it. My diabetes has had an influence on me, my sister, my family and others. Doing the digital story has allowed me to focus on how I feel about the ways it has affected my life.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
I enjoyed being able to give a copy of the video to my sister.

Your comments

"Such a heartwarming story, made even better by the fact that I knew Alastair and Julie Duncan through a past relationship - the William he mentions in the story. Well done Alastair for your obvious and well deserved successes, long may they continue. My very best wishes to you and your family. Kind Regards," Cindy Kenny from Ware, Hertfordshire.

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