The Morgans’ story

We caught up with Steve and Sally Morgan of the Steve Morgan Foundation to find out more about their motivation for giving and their hopes for the future.

September 14, 2022

“We want to help bring about change for the whole type 1 community,” explains Steve. “The community is a tight family made up of those who have type 1 and those who care for them. The Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge aims to find better solutions for everyone.”

Steve and Sally were introduced to the type 1 community and the relentless daily management of the condition when Sally’s son Hugo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven.

“Hugo was diagnosed whilst we were on holiday in Antigua,” says Sally. “Despite having all the tell-tale signs: sudden weight loss, lethargy, excessive drinking etc. we had not comprehended how seriously poorly he was. As with any recent diagnosis understanding how to manage Hugo’s diabetes was a huge learning curve, both practically and mentally.”

Steve adds: “The diagnosis was a shock but we quickly got on the case – we weren’t going to take it lying down! Following his diagnosis in July, he went onto a pump in September. We’re constantly looking at new technologies and asking if we should be looking at smart pens, different sensors and more.”

While technology plays an important part in the management of Hugo’s type 1, Steve and Sally believe in the power of research to bring about better treatments, and eventually a cure.

Steve and Sally were introduced to JDRF and the world of type 1 research when Hugo was being cared for by the Countess of Chester Hospital. Sally explains: “Hugo was given a KIDSAC that contained Rufus the bear. That bear especially helped Hugo, he would frequently use it to practice injections and explain his condition to teachers and classmates. Philanthropy is important to us, so I decided to do some due diligence into JDRF as a charity. We liked what we learned and 12 months after Hugo’s diagnosis we approached the charity about making a meaningful donation.”

Steve and Sally have a long history of philanthropic giving. In 2001 Steve founded the Steve Morgan Foundation to support projects that help children and families, people with physical or learning disabilities, the elderly, or those that are socially disadvantaged in North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire. Since its launch, the Foundation has committed assets of £300 million for charities and supported over 2,000 grants, which have benefitted over 3 million people.

“Four years ago, we donated £3m to JDRF,” says Steve. “We wanted it to go directly into research. We followed through with subsequent grants. We’ve never, ever just sat back and written cheques. We don’t want what we donate to end up being swallowed up by the administration costs, we want it to go directly to where it’s needed. In this case to finding a cure for Type I diabetes.”

The latest donation of £50 million to Diabetes UK and JDRF will be directed into three main avenues of research. Over the next five years the partnership will challenge scientists to come up with pioneering research ideas focusing on new insulins, treatments to stop the immune system’s attack on insulin-making beta cells and treatments to rescue and replace beta cells.

“When we told Hugo about the £50m donation, he just burst into tears and gave Steve a great big hug,” says Sally. “It shows the size of what he has to deal with on a day-to-day basis due to his type 1 diabetes. The donation is for everyone living with type 1, it gives hope.”

The scale of the donation and ambitions of the Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will allow the partnership to make bigger strides forward in the search for more effective treatments and eventually a cure, giving everyone with type 1 hope that in the future type 1 diabetes won’t be the continuous burden that it currently is.

“It would be in our wildest dreams to get a cure at the end of these five years,” says Steve. “If nothing else it will bring forward that day.”