How We Got Started

The Bermuda Diabetes Association was formed in 1978 by two nurses, Joanne Dean Armstrong and Debbie Hollis Jones. 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.

Bermuda diabetes pharmacy

History + Achievements

Year 1 - 1979

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

1979 Inaugural meeting.

1980 - 1990

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%.

1996 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.


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.


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.

2012 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 - Kim Day, Executive Director joins BDA.

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

2020 August- BDA moves into its current premises, the Hilton Hill Diabetes Centre.

2020 September 24 - Official opening for Corporate donors.

2022 April BDA successfully achieves the BNSC Accreditation.

2022 November - Lori Rockhead, Executive Director, joins the BDA.

2023 BDA completes the official renovation of the lower floor of the Hilton Hill Diabetes Centre.

2023 May 10 - Official opening of the Hilton Hill Diabetes Centre.

Original Members
  • 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

Past Presidents
  • 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
  • Debbie Jones
  • Greg van der Made

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