Young snooker star thanks NHS diabetes team

A TALENTED young snooker star from Hartlepool has thanked NHS staff for helping him on his way to the top after he was crowned the country’s best junior player.

Sean McAllister has developed into one of the brightest teenage snooker prospects around, despite the challenges he has faced being treated for type 1 diabetes.

Sean, who is 17, has achieved all of this with the help of staff in the children’s diabetes service at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust who have carefully managed and treated his condition.

After recently winning the English under 18 snooker championship, he returned to the University Hospital of Hartlepool to thank staff for their help.

He said: “Staff here have been fantastic – without them I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have.

“My dream is to be a professional snooker player and, thanks to staff here, I know that having diabetes will not stop me from doing that.

“If I want to achieve this, it’s important I can manage this while travelling to other countries and in the middle of long matches. Now I know I can do this.”

The diabetes team have fitted Sean with a glucose sensor which is inserted under the skin to measure sugar levels.

It can quickly detect if glucose is reaching a high or low level – something which is very important for Sean during matches.

His mum, Tracy, said: “Sean was only four when he first started feeling unwell. We were on a family holiday in Bulgaria and he was so unwell that he ended up spending a week in hospital there.

“Since then we have been coming to Hartlepool hospital every three months where his glucose levels are checked.

“If Sean’s blood sugar levels are not right, then that can affect his snooker. Thanks to the sensor, we know immediately if there is an issue and we can quickly treat it – normally by having something to eat.

“We know how lucky we are to have this sensor because other diabetic people we know do not have access to one and we wouldn’t be able to go without it.”

Debbie McHugh, paediatric diabetes specialist nurse, said: “It’s fantastic to see Sean excelling and proving that a diabetes diagnosis should never hold anyone back from fulfilling their full potential.

“Diabetes is very treatable once we have an understanding of a patient’s blood sugar levels and how to manage this with insulin. If we do this then we can completely avoid a patient getting hypoglycaemia from low blood glucose levels, which cause symptoms such as shaking, sweating, tiredness and headaches.

“Sean is now very settled, we see him every three months to check on him as we would with any diabetes patient, and I am really pleased with how well he is doing.”

Sean, who is a student at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, has been playing snooker since the age of 10, practising in SAMS Snooker and Pool Club in Hartlepool which his family run.

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