Diabetes nurse scores an online hit with festive collaboration

By Editor
21st December 2023

A cover of the Christmas song O Holy Night has racked up thousands of views online thanks to a special collaboration between a diabetes specialist nurse and the founder of a diabetes support group.

James Ridgeway, a Diabetes Specialist Nurse and former professional singer, wanted to give his family a gift to remember this Christmas, so he decided to head back into the recording studio.

When his version of O Holy Night proved to be popular with a number of friends, James wondered if he could “turn it into something really special” and enlisted the help of friend Tom Dean, the founder of online support group, DiabetesChat – winner of the Peer Support Category in the latest Quality in Care Diabetes Awards.

Following an appeal to the diabetes community around the world, they received more than 80 photos which were added to a music video produced by Tom.

The result is a moving tribute to all those living with diabetes and the people who care for them – and in just over 36 hours, the music video has already racked up more than 11,000 views and dozens of comments on X – formerly known as Twitter – with the initial trailer attracting over 25,000 views.

It is also hoped it will help to raise money for JDRF, a not-for-profit organisation that funds type 1 diabetes research.

James, who lives with type 1 diabetes himself, is a Diabetes Specialist Nurse for the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and also an Education and Research Associate at EDEN, which is part of the Leicester Diabetes Centre and develops and delivers award-winning education programmes.

Explaining his latest personal venture, James said he started thinking about how he could make his Christmas gift to his friends and family an unforgettable one.

James, who used to sing for a living before embarking on his nursing career 15 years ago, said: “I thought I’d go back to my old roots, go back to the recording studio and see how rusty the pipes are – I brought some WD-40 to the studio!

“I told a few people I’d done it and that I was planning to put it on social media on Christmas Day. They were very complimentary when they heard a sample, so I wondered if there could be more to it.”

James got in touch with Tom – “the man with a plan” who proved to be the perfect choice for turning his idea into a reality.

James said: “I only sang for four minutes – Tom has spent hours putting the video together. It’s amazing.”

Tom, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006, said: “We spoke about getting the community involved and what a great idea it would be to reach out to people. DiabetesChat is inclusive and we reach people all over the world.

“Since we put the video online, we’ve had so many lovely emails and messages. It’s dedicated

to everyone in the diabetes community – you are all fantastic people and it shows we’re one big family.”

One person described being “in tears” after watching the video, while others described it as “wonderful”, “amazing” and “gorgeous”.

James said the video is a reminder that support and help for people with diabetes and their families is available all year round, adding: “It’s been a real pleasure. It’s turned from a Christmas gift to my family to a Christmas gift for all.”

He also hinted that this may not be the last people hear from him and Tom, saying: “We might do other things.”

Listen to James and Tom’s version of O Holy Night here.

Visit the DiabetesChat website here or follow them on X: #diabeteschat

Find out more about the work of JDRF or donate here.

About the Leicester Diabetes Centre

LDC is answering the global challenge of type 2 diabetes and long-term conditions through world-leading research, education and innovation.

Based at Leicester General Hospital, the 3,000m2 centre is a unique collaboration between the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Founded in 2012, the centre is home to the award-winning DESMOND and EDEN programmes; that ensure the findings of LDC’s innovative research continues to achieve impact beyond the research setting.

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