Back to the Report from FFL UK 2010 Comments from Friends for Life UK 2010

A CWD weekend helps your family to grow year by year, you realise you are not alone and when everything is falling apart around you, you know that there are people all over the country who understand and care. A weekend leaves you feeling motivated, inspired and ready to tackle anything. A weekend teaches you that don't have to like diabetes, but you have to love your life.

Well I think everyone was aware that I was little excited about FFL beforehand, and it was absolutely every bit as good as I was hoping and then even more! I can't thank you all enough for the huge amount of effort you put in. I hope you know how greatly appreciated it is by us all. Despite feeling exhausted afterwards, I also feel like the D batteries have been recharged and I'm ready to take it all on again! Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing FFL to us and can't wait to see you all again next year.....only 359 sleeps!

I wonder if you realise how much this weekend means to us... the chance to let our children out of sight and know that everyone will look out for them, that everyone in the childcare (no matter what age group) knows how to look after them and we can relax, the warmth that emanates from everyone from the moment you arrive. We would have loved to have said thank you officially at the end but I think most of us were so overwhelmed with emotion after Jeff's lovely talk that words would have been tricky...maybe next year we will get someone from CWDUK to express our gratitude....

Joe Solo's sessions were much appreciated, not just for their first-rate content, but also for the joy it was to see parents of CWD laughing until they cried - not something they get to do so often. The "Goodbye" presentation by Jeff was absolutely superb. This has made an immediate difference to my granddaughter's care.
Grandma Gill

Loved Olly - thank God someone has a sense of humour about diabetes, he set the weekend off to a great start. As last year, I came away inspired, as much by the knowledge I acquired from the sessions, but also talking to my CWD friends, which wasn't enough by the way. It should be a week long, or like the Orlando one which can be an extended holiday, so we could spend more time hanging out with other parents. I love that shared knowledge you get from other mums.

A big thank you to everybody involved in organising and speaking at the weekend. You are all so inspirational, positive, honest and realistic about what it means to live with diabetes everyday and what it is like to be a family with diabetes. I feel like I have been plugged in to the battery charger for the whole weekend and am ready to rock again. To listen and speak to people who 'get it' is one of the best forms of therapy that there is. My only downside is that there were so many times that I could have cried, simply because a speaker hit a raw nerve or showed a wonderful photo, and because I am British I guess I held it in when this was my chance to let go. I know that I am not the only one who felt like this so perhaps next year we should just let go and forget that we are British and remember that we are amongst people who probably feel exactly the same. All of the speakers are worth their weight in gold, to give up their time for the weekend is fantastic and where would we be without them.

For the second year I have come away feeling totally overwhelmed by the power of CWD. As you know last year I came away worried Ellis had not made friends as he is not outgoing & yet he has spent the whole year asking how long before we go again & now he is saying how long to the next one. I think it speaks volumes, he has been able to sit back & absorb the atmosphere & feel a part of something totally unique.

I think first we have to say thank you again. There is just nothing like being there with all the families who "get it" and everything else becomes a bonus! We had a great time and came back with useful ideas too. Really enjoyed hearing Gary Scheiner - such a practical approach grounded in both science and the reality of living with type 1.
Clare and Michael

What a difference it has made to us. We are about to venture into a pump, and the conference really gave us the confidence to move forward. It was also great to leave Sam with such competent and caring people.

Ella, as she wrote on the quilt square, loves the fact that FFL makes her feel "undifferent" ... That got me in tears. She loved the Halloween party, especially the dressing up and disco!

You should all be very proud of yourselves for making hundreds of children and their parents so very happy. Your work is priceless and long may it happen. Looking forward to next year already! Today Alex said that he would like to live in FFL land all the time - where everyone knows you are diabetic because everyone else is and you *know* there is always someone there to help if you need it.

It has given our family a revived sense of energy in getting things as right as they can be for Lizzie managing her diabetes. We have learnt the most important lesson - it is all about the smiles. Lizzie and all my kids spent the whole weekend smiling and laughing.

Chloe says a massive thanks to Natalie and Jim; you are her heroes. Jack loves everyone and everything (I quote). It was also wonderful for Chloe and Jack to feel part of the huge CWD family, testing actually became fun and Chloe is now living by Jeff's motto, " we don't live to be a diabetic we live to dance on the beach."

Thank you all so much for a great and wonderful weekend...I now feel revitalised and recharged and have renewed strength to live on with diabetes for another year. I love the knowledge that we gain from FFL and that it is not wrong to have that we are often made to feel in the UK. It's great to spend a weekend with people, new and old friends, who 'get it' and who feel the same way about diabetes as we do... people that want to move forward with their child's care, who are forward thinking and who want to go beyond the basic knowledge. It's fantastic that my son can spend time with other D children and know that he's not alone with diabetes and won't get bullied because of having D. He knows the adults here understand and he feels safe. That's what FFL means to me...

As parents of a newly diagnosed child, we found Jeff's closing session really helpful and encouraging and positive about what we could do to help. We loved the combination of the practical advice in Gary's sessions and the magic of Jo Solo. We were all terrified on the first evening and Oliver Double's session made us cry with laughter and was a brilliant start for the weekend. So we cannot actually give you a favourite session. I have come back with pages and pages of notes.

We would also like to thank the sponsors, because Owain loved the balloon artists and the giant Lenny Lion, and we parents enjoyed talking to all the different sponsors about their products and just finding out what's out there. The speakers were all fantastic! Finally, Jeff's closing talk was really great – it was wonderful that he shared his photos of Marissa growing up into the beautiful confident young woman she is now, that really brought a tear to my eye, and was a lovely positive and optimistic ending to the weekend.

In the end one of our Dads did say 'actually I think we're all amazing!' and that got a big round of applause! Sometimes we just need validation. Hats off to Mike who had his work cut out with the catering - it's one of the toughest jobs at the conference and no I wouldn't want to swap with him! Real improvement on last year and lots of great comments about food quality too.

We are a fairly quiet and reserved family and we were a little worried about coming and being amongst so many people, but the benefits we got from the experience soon overtook any nerves we had and we are definitely planning to come next year. I found Natalie's sick day advice brilliant.

We loved the food this year. I didn't have anything I didn't enjoy. The fried fish was the best I've ever had! The gluten free food was lovely, thanks Mike- Yorkshire puddings were a big hit!

It was an incredible weekend on so many levels. You managed to create such a fantastic atmosphere - supportive, educational, fun, and friendly - all those normal British reserved barriers were broken down! The children had a blast - Magnus especially! He has learnt so much from being in the group and clearly really took on board the things that Jeff told them - I have seen a noticeable change in his self management since the weekend, which is a testimony to CWD's success.

For my children the inspiration are the other children; the older boys who seem so cool and funny and have D just the same as them!

Again thank you so much for bringing your magic to the UK. You are all so friendly and I'm pretty sure you find us an odd bunch and sometimes quite quiet. I have a picture in my mind of the US conferences where the crowd may shout out in agreement or even heckle sometimes and yet us Brits sit quietly. You may find this a bit odd but I can assure you we sit and listen and absorb so much.

My favourite session would also have to include the mum's talk; hearing what we all have to say is equally as important, moving and entertaining as hearing what one individual with their own experience has to say. In fact, you could say my favourite speaker was everyone at the conference that I listened to, be they child, adult or teen. I learnt from everyone. For Tom the learning is still about being normal. He feels confident and less anxious at FFL. He seems 3 feet taller when I see him there.

Emily loved childcare - this is a girl who has only recently started pre-school and has been very upset at me leaving - with you guys she was shoving me out the door - I think that says it all.

We found real support and left feeling so much better and for that too we are very grateful. It has made a big difference to Hannah - she refuses to remove her green wristband or take off her t-shirt and has spent the day printing off and arranging her photos to take to school.

Thank you for a fantastic weekend - you and your team are amazing people who are able to offer 'food for thought' and a 'wake up call' in a supportive and nurturing environment. It is important that you all enjoy time with your families - please thank them for lending you to us.

Oli really benefited from being with other children with pumps. He has had his since June. It was so good for him to be ' normal' and also so good for us to be normal too. I can't tell you how nice it was to be a part of this huge family. After 11 months in the D world I never felt that I could find something positive about Oliver's diagnosis but over this last weekend I learnt that there are so many lovely people who face the same issues and are so supportive.

I was shaking with the effort not to sob out loud with relief when he (Jeff) showed those statistics on renal disease and how much better our kids life expectancy I hadn't seen them and I was utterly taken aback by the strength of my reaction to them. So glad I have seen them now. A great closing speech.

Milly had a ball in Elementary, thank you to Lauren, Liz, Marissa and all the girls down there. Tess also had great fun in childcare "looking after all the babies" as she explained it to us! She LOVES Mary and Audrey and so do we.

There were lots of highlights from the weekend, but if I had to pick a few they were Oliver Double's comedy, Joe Solo's talks and Jeff's closing talk which was very moving. The kids loved all the stalls, balloon models and face painting – their mastery of their respective arts was outstanding. For the teenagers, Thorpe Park was a real hit! We learned lots of new stuff, and while it may take some time to sink in, it has given us courage to get on top of spikes and night time lows, and keep campaigning for new techniques and therapies that will make our daughter Rachel's life long and happy. There was a real emotional connection with everyone which is more profound than can be expressed with words, and it was only necessary just to be there to feel supported.
David and Vicky

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you and Jeff, Joe, all the childcare teams, sponsors for a fantastic weekend (and everyone else I have forgotten).

The event was a huge success as we expected. People really appreciated the farewell speech that you gave Jeff, it was one of the highlights. A really moving talk that put things in perspective after focusing on the mechanics of diabetes and science, pulling us back to the real issue, our children and how we can help them live their lives and be happy.
Jackie and Terry

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