Karen Rigby  Karen was born in a small seaside town just outside Melbourne in Australia.  She obtained a degree in Sociology at Latrobe University and then went on to do a post graduate diploma in social research.  She joined the Telecommunications Needs Research Group in 1994 and went on to research attitudes and ways of living around the then just emerging technologies - the mobile phone and the internet.  In 1997 she moved to Dartmouth, Devon and began working in Exeter University's Sociology Department researching Politics and Older Age and then Children with Life Limiting illnesses and their support at school before taking a break from academia to look after her two daughters, one of whom has type 1 diabetes and has needed extra support at home. 


Q. What does a day in the life of look like for you? 

A. My bird song alarm goes off a 6am and my husband brings me a cup of coffee in bed before he wakes the children and asks my eldest daughter, Ruby to test herself and put in her insulin.  Every second day I fill a new reserviour for her with insulin and rewind her pump while she inserts a new cannula into her leg.  Once a week I also need to insert a new cannula into her lower back.  Ruby and I leave the house at 7.30 making sure she has a full bottle of lucozade and enough test strips to get through the day, before I drop her at the bus stop. At the office I look after Noel's busy calendar of meetings and organise the teams paperwork for conference attendences. I maintain the Endnote bibliography which grows daily and the iBEX and VIDIS (Viruses in Diabetes International Study) websites. In the evenings I'm back home in Dartmouth in time to eat with my family and read stories and sing bedtime songs to my youngest daughter, Tilly.

Q. What made you work in your current job?

A. I read about the amazing work that this team were doing and I felt that I wanted to do something to help.  Initially I volunteered 1 day a week but I am currently filling in for Nikki as Noel's PA full time.  Living with a husband and a daughter with T1D I know that diabetes isn't just about injections and multiple finger prick tests.  It's about the taxing, anxiety inducing daily difficulties of regulating blood glucose levels. No matter how hard people with T1D work to control their blood sugar levels, random variables throughout the day upset the balance resulting regularly in hyper or hypoglycaemia.  Every diabetic thinks 'have I been a good enough diabetic?  Will I keep my feet, my kidneys, my eyesight?  Will I be able to carry a child, will I live to see my grandchildren?  These are just the questions raised in the west by diabetics with access to insulin and other life giving technologies but people are still dying of this wasting disease everyday.

Q.When you're not working what do you like to do for fun?

A. On the weekends we go on family walks with our border terrier Yoshimi, explore the river & go seal watching in our little boat, Luci and spend as much time as we can with our friends camping &  finding excuses to have fancy dress parties!





4th Floor, RILD Building, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Barrack Road, Exeter, EX2 5DW