MEDIA RELEASE: Designing his future

Available b-roll video download - Half Century Awards 2020.mp4 >

From age 12, James Telfer knew what it would take to live well and long with diabetes.
This year, the London artist will receive a medal of his own design given to St. Joseph’s patients who reach 50 years living with insulin-dependent diabetes. Presented in time for World Diabetes Day Nov. 14, the 2020 Diabetes Half Century Awards are going virtual.

London, Ontario – When James Telfer was asked several years ago by his endocrinologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital for a loan of his creative design talents, he was happy to oblige. The request was for a special medal to be presented each year to patients with insulin-dependent diabetes who reach 50 years since their diagnosis.

As a long-time diabetes patient himself, James, a London design artist, understood how momentous it would be to reach half a century living with the condition, and how meaningful the medal would be to patients reaching the milestone. The medal he designed has since been given out annually at St. Joseph’s Diabetes Half Century Awards.

This year, James will be on the receiving end of the medal. He is among nine recipients of the 2020 Diabetes Half Century Awards having reached the 50-year mark of living well with diabetes. Presented by St. Joseph’s and Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., the awards honour individuals for their personal commitment and diligence in looking after their health, and for acting as a role model to all those living with diabetes. This year’s recipients are being honoured virtually with a video salute to their remarkable achievement of joining the diabetes half century club.

James, 61, was 12 when he was diagnosed. Immediately, his mother lay down the law and set the tone for how he would live the rest of his life. He was taught how to look after himself and what it would take to ensure a long, fulfilling future. As a result, he never felt limited in what he could do.

Summers at a camp for children with diabetes, where James would become a counsellor, were also instrumental in shaping his approach to life with diabetes. A “mystical” place of adventure where “there was no bellyaching” about having diabetes, James learned that knowledge was power when it came to managing his condition.

As a patient, James has participated in several key diabetes trials over the years that have helped to define care for people with type 1 diabetes. When asked to design the Diabetes Half Century Award medal, “it was something else I could contribute,” he says. To earn the medal himself this year means James too is officially a role model for others. And that, he says, “is a very cool thing.”

Read James’ full story on St. Joseph’s website and watch the congratulatory video for recipients of the 2020 Diabetes Half Century Awards.


To mark World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, media are invited to share the stories of two award recipients and interview specialists with St. Joseph’s Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. To arrange, please contact:

Dahlia Reich, Communication & Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
519 646-6100 ext. 65294, Cell 519 619-0971

About St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of: chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery. St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community-based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. For more information, visit

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