History and Achievements

The Bermuda Diabetes Association was formed in 1978 by two nurses, Joanne Dean Armstrong and Debbie Hollis Jones. The first was made up of health professionals and two persons with diabetes.

The members of the first were:

  • Joanne Dean Armstrong
  • Debbie Hollis Jones
  • Michael Jones
  • Dr William Cooke
  • Ms Hazel Taylor
  • Ms. Edna Simmons
  • Ms Glenda Stuart
  • Ms Joyce Weatherhead
  • Mr. Joseph Nixon
  • Ms Kim Faries

The Association was initially called the Bermuda Diabetic Association. It became a registered charity in 1979. Initially the Association was under the umbrella of the TB Cancer and Health Association who had been offering free blood glucose testing to the public. In addition the TB Cancer and Health Association operated a pharmacy for people with diabetes providing affordable medicines. The TB Cancer and Health Association gave the Bermuda Diabetic Association an annual grant of $3000.00

The first newsletter was copied at one of the first photocopiers on the island. Mr. Joseph Nixon was manager of Bermuda Businessman's Bureau and made this photocopier available to the Association. Newsletters had to be inked by hand, loaded onto the copier and then hand turned.

The first meeting was at St. Pauls Christian Education Centre. The first speaker was Dr Thomas Flood from the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston. Dr Flood had been in Bermuda in 1976 when Mr Joseph Nixon and Mr. Howard Mitchell tried to establish an association for diabetes

The second public meeting was also held at St Pauls Christian Education Centre and the speaker was Dr Robert Ehrlich, chief of endocrinology, Toronto Sick Children's Hospital. Dr Ehrlich had been in charge of a diabetes camp in Toronto which Debbie had worked at during her time in Toronto. Dr Ehrlich made Bermuda a "friend" of the Canadian Diabetes Association who provided Bermuda with literature and start up materials for the association



Past Presidents of the Bermuda Diabetes Association

  • Debbie Jones
  • Jill Kempe
  • Florence Hall
  • Janet Burull
  • Debbie Jones
  • Norma Smith
  • Barbara Willis
  • Wilma Lowe
  • Joy Pimentel
  • Gordie Gibbons
  • George Smith
  • Trevor Maderios
  • Dr Femi Bada
  • David Hills

Remembering our heroes

Mr. Joseph Nixon, founding member and supporter. Died from complications of diabetes

Ms Glenda Stuart who was one of the founding members of the association

Mr. Howard Mitchell who provided the funding to send young people with type 1 diabetes to camp

Ms Janet Burull who was one of the presidents. Janet worked hard to make sure blood glucose testing was both available and affordable

Mr George Smith who was one of the presidents and died from complications of diabetes. George worked hard to make sure the association was inclusive.

Chris Pimentel who died way too young from diabetes. Chris volunteered for all of the events and was a strong supporter of the association.

Mr Tony Davis, committee member who lobbied for affordable medicines




1979 Registered charity number 143 (there are roughly 600 charities now)

1979 Inaugural meeting

1980 First meter introduced

1981 Clinical practice guidelines written and published by Dr William Cooke and Ms. Debbie Jones

1981 Bermuda Diabetes Association raised funds for a diabetes nurse educator (Funds raised covered the nurses salary for one year.)

1982 Lobbied for disposable syringes

1983-4 Lobbied for meters to be introduced into hospital for bedside monitoring

1985- First workshop for health professionals

1986-7 Joined the International Diabetes Federation

1986 Changed name for Bermuda Diabetic Association to Bermuda Diabetes Association

1989-90 Fund-raised for expert to come to Bermuda, assess the education programme and assist in lobbying Government to open a diabetes centre at the hospital

Successful in opening centre (Helped by a grant of $100,000 to the hospital by the association for this purpose)

1990 Debbie Jones qualified as a certified diabetes educator having attended the Diabetes health professional educator programme at University of Toronto, Canada

1990 Opening of Diabetes Centre at BHB KEMH

1990 Diabetes Day Guest speaker Dr. Bob Arnot from Good Morning America

1990 Diabetes Day at Number One Shed

1991 Workshop for physicians and nurses on clinical practice guidelines and workshop for health professionals on intensive insulin management.

1991 Lobbied successfully for Novo insulin to replace Lilly. This meant that insulin and educational updates would be provided by Canada and representatives would come to the island with updates, materials etc. Most importantly it meant that the Association could order its insulin direct and have the added advantage of pen devices for free.

1993 Worked with Novo to update physicians on human insulin and analogues. Animal insulin would no longer be available.

1993 George Smith represented Bermuda in Puerto Rico for the signing of the Declaration of Americas, a document which provided information and evidence for Ministries of Health in the region that diabetes was serious and it needed to be taken seriously.

1995 The Bermuda Diabetes association conducted the Bermuda Diabetes Epidemiology Project. This was a randomly selected study. Blood samples were sent to Nova Scotia for analysis as the Hospital did not have the analyzer to test for cardiac profile. Epidemiology study co-directed by Debbie Jones and Dr Meng Tan

1995 The Bermuda Diabetes Association hosted a high profile meeting of members of the community to address the complications of diabetes as well as to launch the epidemiology project. This was done at Government House

1996 The Epidemiology Project was completed in 1996 and the results released six months later. At the time the diagnoses was based on fasting blood glucose of 140mg/dl. 11% of Bermuda's population had diabetes. Together with those with impaired glucose tolerance the prevalence rate was 18%

Walks to raise funds

Denim for Diabetes Day was introduced to raise awareness as well as funds

1997-2000- the Bermuda Diabetes Association partnered with the MOH to implement the Healthy Schools initiative. Schools as a whole, teachers and students were asked to come up with programmes that would address the health issue. They would either collectively or individually submit projects that would address healthy behaviours. Projects would be judged for creativity as well as their focus on health behaviours. The projects would be judged at the end of the school year and prizes given accordingly. This programme was for three years and set the stage for the Healthy Schools Curriculum.


Public meetings

2000 Debbie Jones became vice chair of IDF North American Region

2003 Debbie became chair of IDF North American region and was a member of the IDF of Management

2006 Debbie became an IDF Vice President and reelected for second term in 2009

The Bermuda Diabetes Association played an active role in the activities of the North American region.

2006 -2009 Debbie organized and implemented diabetes educator programmes in the Caribbean as well as India

2004 The Bermuda Diabetes Association held its 25th anniversary celebrations with a gala event at the Hamilton Princess. Janelle Colquin international opera singer with diabetes was the guest performer

2005 Professor Martin Silink the President-elect of the International Diabetes Federation came to Bermuda and was the speaker at a high level lunch at the Hamilton Princess. He addressed the growing epidemic of diabetes and the upcoming resolution on diabetes.

2005 Opening of pharmacy AT Diabetes Association

2005 Employing regular staff.

2005 Bermuda Diabetes Association held first Obesity symposium. This symposium was held over three days and speakers from UK, USA and Canada. Following the symposium regular updates were held between the Association, the hospital, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education on obesity prevention and how to introduce more physical activity into the curriculum

2006 Lindos to Lindos walk

2007 The Bermuda Diabetes Association held an update symposium on clinical practice guidelines with speakers from Europe.

2010-2012 The Association held physician/health professional updates with speakers from the US, Europe and UK addressing topics such as foot care, insulin administration to prevention of diabetes.

Sara McKittrick joins the Bermuda Diabetes Association offering regular grocery store tours, talks to schools, churches and corporations.

2013 Obesity symposium

2013 Dr Robert Lustig came to present to the public and physicians on the obesity epidemic and implications of sugar

2014 Obesity symposium

2015 Summit on diabetes. White paper on water only policy in schools and increased physical activity

2015 Supported Bermuda Pilot Gig project

2015 Dr Robert Lustig. Addressing Diabetes and Obesity. Talks at Hamilton Princess TED Talks

2015 BDA purchases gig boat to encourage "Row for Fitness" programmes

2016 BDA partners with Premier Health and Dr. David Cavan to offer the Reverse Diabetes Programme, sponsored by Argus.

2017 BDA Purchases 22 Princess Street for its new home

2017 Capital Campaign to fundraise for renovation of 22 Princess Street.

2018 Recipient End to End

2019 Portuguese Diabetes Education Programme. Speakers including physician, dietitian and nurse from Portuguese Diabetes Association in Lisbon Portugal

2019 BDA awarded Distributor for Medtronic Insulin pump

2020 April 2020 Kim Day, Executive Director joins BDA

2020 BDA awarded authorized dealership by Abbott for the Freestyle Libre Glucose Meter

2020 August BDA moves into new home

2020 September 24 Official opening for Corporate donors

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