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Jan Baldwin

Jan worked tirelessly for people with diabetes from 1950 to 1999. She was a friend, teacher and confidante to many people with diabetes and to health professionals responsible for their care. Jan Baldwin, died in Sydney aged 48, from a complication of diabetes that finally ended her life.

Jan trained as a nurse at the Concord General Repatriation Hospital in 1972, did psychiatric training at Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital, completed a Diploma of Nurse Education at the Cumberland College of Health Sciences and went on to teach student nurses.

Jan was a foundation member and past president of ADEA, and a former board member of the Junior Diabetes Federation of Australia and of Diabetes Australia. She has been recognised nationally for her outstanding service to those organisations.

In 1982, she was the inaugural life member of ADEA, and, in 1997, she received one of the inaugural Diabetes Australia awards for distinguished service to diabetes.

When Jan won a place as a student nurse, it was not usual, or well accepted, for a nurse to have a condition such as diabetes. However, by the time she was 17, she had had diabetes for 14 years, a fact she kept to herself (apart from telling the matron).

One morning she slid off her chair and disappeared behind the sister’s station because her blood sugar level suddenly dropped and she lost consciousness. Daily life began with rising at 4.30 am to boil her urine to check her blood sugar level and to have her insulin before going on duty.

Jan was a resilient and committed advocate for people with diabetes and her strength enabled her to graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney with a Master’s degree in Adult Education just prior to her death and undergoing renal dialysis.

Her loyalty was as outstanding as her courage, vision and selflessness. She taught many people the meaning of friendship, about the importance of commitment to each other, and about loving each other.

ADEA now has a membership of almost 2,000 health professionals. It may not have happened at all except for the determination of Baldwin and a small group of supporters. Her life membership was in recognition of the efforts to establish the association. Jan was President in 1994 for two years. She is remembered by a memorial fund, The Jan Baldwin Research Trust, to support research focused on the psycho/social aspects of diabetes.