“I Will Never Feel Ashamed of My Diabetes and Would Advise Anyone with a Health Condition Not to Feel Ashamed Either.”

International Women's Day 2023




Ellie Hunter is an exceptional 17-year-old PeacePlayer participant and volunteer from Larne. We are honored that Ellie took the time to share her experience of being recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and are inspired by her grace, strength and empathy. 

Tell us about your relationship with PeacePlayers. How did you first get involved?

I feel my relationship with PeacePlayers is very good. I got involved with them when they started working with the Larne YMCA, which is my local youth club and where I volunteer. I would also like to coach for PeacePlayers when I'm old enough.

The PeacePlayers team was really excited about giving you a shoutout with this story. Why do you think they were so keen on highlighting you? What impact do you feel like you have at PeacePlayers?

I feel they were keen to give me a shout-out because so many have said that I am an inspirational person. I am a very open and honest person and always ensure wherever I am that no one feels left out. I have been in these situations myself and didn't like the way it made me feel so I will ensure wherever I see similar situations, I will have a positive impact on their life.

Would you feel comfortable talking about your diabetes experience? How have things changed since your diagnosis?

Since my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, I have been open and honest when asked questions. My routine has stayed the same although I do have to keep a closer check on my condition as it can change very rapidly. I do feel I have adjusted quite well and that it's the new normal for me. I will never feel ashamed and would advise anyone with a health condition not to feel ashamed either. We are still the same unique person.

What have you learned about yourself since the diagnosis? How has it affected the way you think about yourself? About others?

I suppose I've learnt that each day can be very different. I believe you have to take each day as it comes. I thought I'd have to cut a lot of foods out after my diagnosis, although through careful planning and monitoring I can enjoy most foods in moderation and within my meal plans.

What do you want people to know about your journey and the experience of those with chronic illnesses?

I want people to know that we are all in this together. Never feel ashamed or hide away. Many people have different experiences but we all relate in some way. My journey was quite scary at the beginning, due to my health deteriorating over a matter of hours. The not knowing and endless doctors monitoring me and telling me I was heading into DKA [Diabetic ketoacidosis], a really serious condition with diabetes. Thankfully I got the right treatment. It took me a while to absorb all the information.

Did PeacePlayers help you in some way during this time? If so, how? Were there any people (friends or staff) in particular that you want to mention?

Aoife was very supportive and encouraging. She helped me when I returned to my voluntary role at PeacePlayers. Aoife ensured everyone was aware of my condition and looks out for me when I attend sessions. I'd also like to mention Leanne, Dean and Becca from Larne YMCA where I work as a volunteer. They have been and remain a massive support network for me.

Since your diagnosis, have you connected with other young people with diabetes? Are there any common experiences you’ve shared? Any common challenges?

When I was first diagnosed I felt very nervous about all the change this would bring for me. I attended a choice course/programme within a matter of weeks of my diagnosis. I met other newly diagnosed young people. We all got to share our story. I also learnt how to make good choices with food and how to keep myself safe should my condition deteriorate.

A Shoutout from Ellie’s Grandma, Veronica:


Ellie is an exceptional young lady due to difficulties she has faced throughout her life – Not just her recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes but ongoing difficulties she faced as a young girl going through her day to day life. During Ellie’s school life, she didn’t find it as easy in her friends and faced some challenging times. In the end, those who Ellie believed to be genuine friends actually weren’t. 


Ellie never let this get to her. She’s done what she does best: she shook it off and worked as hard as SHE could. Ellie went on to pass every one of her GCSE’s [important standardized texts] in 2022. Gaining fabulous grades, Ellie started a new school September 2022 where she is studying her A. Levels [matriculation exams] over the next two years. Every teacher throughout Ellie’s school years has spoken highly of her. This was evident from primary right through to secondary school, including her present school. Ellie’s determination is second to none. 


Early November 2022, Ellie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This was a terrible shock at the time. Ellie had been feeling unwell over a number of months leading up to exams, losing weight which had been put down to the stress of school and exams. As Ellie is now 17, things were very different for her as an inpatient compared to that of someone between 16-17. Ellie was classified as an adult and was expected to go home and manage this on her own, compared younger children who spent 5-7 days in hospital being shown step by step how to manage their diagnosis. Ellie spent 24 hours in hospital to stabilise, and then was sent home with medication  and was expected to manage. Challenging as it was (it did lead to a further hospital admission), Ellie remained strong throughout. This was an extremely worrying time, as no one knew how ill Ellie had been. This never held Ellie back. 


Within a few days, Ellie had returned to her studies and placement. Ellie managed the administration of her insulin, finger pricking and testing her blood sugars numerous times a day. This is the new way of life for Ellie now, and she has taken it on the chin. How Ellie has transformed her eating pattern has been a credit to her as she was such a fussy eater previously. Ellie knows with ongoing medical appointments that this is a serious condition which has to be monitored and managed closely. Ellie never lets anything defeat her; she deals with the here and now and then moves on to whatever is next. Medical staff from the hospitals have also praised Ellie on how well she is managing her condition.


Ellie is such a strong young lady, but she is also sensitive and feels what you feel should you be upset, unwell or need help. Ellie would go beyond to help in any way she could. She manages the administration of medication in front of others; she doesn’t shy away or hide (in Ellie’s words, why should I have to hide?). I believe Ellie will go places with all the right support around her. Ellie is determined to complete her studies and find a job. YMCA and PeacePlayers have been a huge support in offering opportunities. Ellie currently volunteers as a young leader at LARNE YMCA and PeacePlayers. Ellie shows amazing skills of engaging with everyone no matter their background. 


Ellie shows great enthusiasm in leading activities, bringing ideas and most of all being a friend. Ellie suffered herself within friendship groups and wants to ensure no one is left feeling the way she did. If ever you need a friend, wish for an Ellie. She will look out for you, direct and protect you.

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