“Speechless”: 12-year-old honoured for volunteer efforts with JDRF

Local volunteer Sarah Peatman. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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12-year-old Sarah Peatman has been awarded JDRF’s NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year for her efforts in raising funds and awareness for Type 1 diabetes.

Peatman was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during a family holiday on New Year’s Day last year, after a scary incident which saw her travel in a Toll air ambulance from Coffs Harbour Base Hospital to the intensive care unit at The Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

According to her dad, Tim Peatman, Sarah became driven to become an advocate almost immediately.

“Not long after the diagnosis, she said she wanted to do something for other kids who have gone through this, and asked if we could do something with parkrun to organise it,” she said.

“When we were organising it, it was more about just getting a bit more knowledge out to people about Type 1 diabetes, but then she thought, maybe we could do some fundraising.”

From here, Sarah found JDRF – the leading supporter of type 1 diabetes research globally – and got involved in their advocacy program.

Since then, she’s done plenty of events, including with her school, Nepean River parkrun, and with politicians, helping secure $6.5M of funding in this year’s federal budget.

“I’ve done fundraising with parkrun, and at my school, and I’ve also met with politicians and talked to them,” she said.

“It makes me feel really good, knowing that I’ve been able to help people through my work.”

Recently, Tim found out that Sarah was not only nominated for JDRF Volunteer of the Year but was awarded NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year based on her efforts.

“We just got a phone call out of the blue and said, ‘Just letting you know, Sarah’s been nominated, and she’s won NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year’,” he said.

This was a huge surprise for Sarah.

“I was speechless and in shock when I found out,” she said.

In the lead up to National Diabetes Week, held from July 14, there are a few things Sarah would like people to know.

“It’s not as easy as it looks on the outside,” she said.

“It can be really difficult, especially when you’re looking at other people’s lives and you see how it’s easier for them to do things that it’s really hard to do for you.”

This includes at school, where she said a lot of the pre-planning she has to do around food isn’t always possible.

“Whenever they do events with food and stuff like barbeques, it’s really hard just with timing. Sometimes, they do it in the morning before anyone’s had their recess, and you’ve just got to deal with that,” she said.

Moving forward, Sarah has big goals for her fundraising.

“I want to do a fundraiser with the Western Sydney Marathon and run the 10km,” she said.

But, in the meantime, it’s Tim who’s taking the lead.

“I’m running the Sydney Marathon, and doing some fundraising in association with that,” he said.

“So far, I’ve raised $1116.”

Local volunteer Sarah Peatman. Photo: Melinda Jane.
Cassidy Pearce

Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.

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