Nigel A. Bertram, Chairman of The Norfolk Diabetes Trust.

Nigel A. Bertram, Chairman of The Norfolk Diabetes Trust.


On Thursday 23rd July Nigel gave the Group a fascinating insight into Norfolk Diabetes Trust (NDF), detailing its formation, development and achievements. Diagnosed when young, both Nigel and his elder brother Kip are insulin dependent diabetics and this strongly contributed to the motivation of their mother, Elsie Bertram MBE (b. 1912 - d. 2003), whose drive and personal contributions led to the creation of our leading Diabetes Centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Nigel then detailed his life as a diabetic contrasting his early experiences when patients had to sterilise their needles and fill their own syringes, and blood testing needed a two-hour wait in a medical facility for the result, compared to today’s simple pre-filled pen injectors and five second blood tests. He also mentioned his experience of some very serious complications consequential to long-term diabetes such as an operation to clear claudication (atherosclerosis of the main femoral artery) in his legs.

Looking forward Nigel reminded the audience of the rising number of diabetics with now, in Norfolk alone, an estimated 48,000 known or undiagnosed diabetics which will present a tremendous future challenge for the health services and an inevitably increasing demand for the patient-driven Norfolk Diabetes Trust’s support.

When Elsie Bertram reached retirement age in 1987 she chose to keep on working for her family’s company (Bertram Books), but then donated her pension lump sum of £120K to kick-start fundraising for a proposed Diabetes Centre in Norwich. By 1989 the appeal’s initial target of a quarter of a million pounds had been achieved and the Bertram Diabetes Centre was opened at the West Norwich Hospital. The Norfolk (formerly & Norwich) Diabetes Trust was then established 1990 with continuing fund-raising establishing retinopathy screening in 2000 and the Bertram Diabetes Eye Unit in 1994.

In 2001 the Eye Unit was transferred to the N&NUH so forming the Diabetes Centre we now all know so well and that is so appropriately named after Elsie Bertram. Over the last 10 years some £1,021,850 has been given to this Centre, and from the start of the Trust 40 projects, in the form of equipment, staff and facilities have been funded by the NDT, an investment of over £2.5 million in Norfolk’s diabetes services.

Nigel concluded by detailing the many achievements made by the Trust-supported projects and outlining its support to research and its future planned aims. The audience met this with great approval and appreciation.