Pioneering diabetic Norfolk new mum all set for bodypainting festival this weekend

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins back home with her new baby boy Euan Wilkins after pioneering use of an a

Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins back home with her new baby boy Euan Wilkins after pioneering use of an artificial pancreas to control her diabetes.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A world-first Norfolk mum, who successfully pioneered a new treatment for diabetes, is safely home with her healthy baby son.

The 'Spice Girls' as body-painted by Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins and Jennie Roberts to promote this

The 'Spice Girls' as body-painted by Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins and Jennie Roberts to promote this year's Paintopia theme: The Art of Music. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Type 1 diabetic Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins is full of admiration for the artificial pancreas and medical care which helped her through seven tricky months, ending joyfully with the birth of Euan at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, on April 28, weighing 8lb 14oz.

Now, like every other mum with a newborn baby, Ms Finlayson-Wilkins, 41, is flat out feeding and caring for the new arrival, plus his older brother, Finley, six, and trying to snatch sleep when she can.

But she will make time this weekend to help run Paintopia, the UK's biggest body and face art event, which takes place at the Sprowston Manor Hotel, near Norwich.

A professional face and body painter, Ms Finlayson-Wilkins, from Knapton, near North Walsham, spent time during her pregnancy creating promotional artwork for Paintopia.

An example of Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins' and Jennie Roberts' bodypainting on the theme Art in Musi

An example of Catriona Finlayson-Wilkins' and Jennie Roberts' bodypainting on the theme Art in Music. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant


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And she also managed to decorate two Go Go Dragons in the kitchen of the old farmhouse where she, husband Peter Wilkins and their sons live.

One, 'Flambeau,' is for Norwich Gas Centre and the other, on a James Bond theme, is for the EDP's sister broadcaster, Mustard TV. The beasts will both form part of this summer's dragon trail through Norwich, raising money for Norfolk charity Break.

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Ms Finlayson-Wilkins had hoped she would still be pregnant for Paintopia: 'There were lots of people lined up to paint my bump,' she said.

But fears that there might be a problem with Euan's development meant that she was induced at 37 weeks.

She is the first person in the world to give birth naturally using the artificial pancreas, which, taped to her stomach, constantly measured her all-important blood sugar levels and automatically pumped the right amount of insulin into her body.

She used the equipment from the second month of her pregnancy and will have to return it within the next couple of months.

'Hormones play absolute havoc with your sugars and I could go from normal to nearly unconscious in three or four minutes,' she said.

While pregnant with Finley, she had to monitor her levels every three hours, waking through the night, and give herself insulin injections.

Afterwards, the couple wanted another child to complete their family, but were devastated two years ago to lose a baby girl after seven months' gestation.

When she became pregnant again, Ms Finlayson-Wilkins had been eager to join the artificial pancreas trial.

'I was really worried that I would be panicking the whole time but it didn't happen,' she said.

'With everything else against me, and my age, I pretty much said 'this is my last chance.' Euan was a very welcome surprise.

'It's an amazing piece of kit and I'm really going to miss it. You can just see how it will not only help pregnant women, but parents with diabetic children, and diabetic people with Alzheimer's. It will be a huge relief to so many people.'

Despite her own preoccupations, Ms Finlayson-Wilkins said she had been following the birth of the royal baby at the weekend and took her hat off to the Duchess of Cambridge.

'The amount of attention I have had has left me shell-shocked, so I can't imagine what it must be like for her,' she said.

'She looked so fantastic, with her hair and make-up done, just a few hours after giving birth when all she must have wanted to do was be back with her family in her comfy clothes!'

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