St Albans woman’s charity tattoo

Granddaughter Jan King, Shaun Foley, and dad John Foley after the tattoo session.

Granddaughter Jan King, Shaun Foley, and dad John Foley after the tattoo session. - Credit: Archant

Your average grandma might knit with a needle, not get inked by one. But a St Albans nana has decided at the age of 68 to get tattooed to raise money for Diabetes UK.

The charity is close to Jan King’s heart as her grandson Shaun Foley was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2013.

She said: “Shaun is an inspiration to us all and I wanted to have the tattoo to show him just how proud we are of him. Somehow he always finds a smile. Even when he’s struggling himself he has a way of knowing when things are not right with others and will always find a moment to comfort people.

“To be able to sense these things at such a young age is a wonderful gift.”

Jan was not alone in her grand gesture of support to her family member as 14-year-old Shaun’s father John, mother Tina and godmother Jenna Bigwood also got a tattoo.

They all had the same tattoo, which is a design inspired by Shaun and the number two – the date in February last year that he was diagnosed.

Speaking about his diagnosis, the teenager said: “I was told I had Type 1 diabetes on 2 February just a few days after I started feeling ill and tired, with stomach pains.

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“It was a life-changing event and has been a struggle. I continue my day to day activities but wish I could be like other kids and not think about everything I eat and how exercise will affect me.”

Shaun helped to create a design based on the number 2 to wear on a diabetes ID tag – a necklace which identifies that he has Type 1 diabetes in case of any medical problems if he was on his own.

Once it had been created he realised the design could be used to raise money for diabetes research. The design is also being sold on t-shirts to raise money, after being printed for free by St Albans company Premium Force.

In addition to this the family have raised money through a sponsored wax of other family members and friends, including Shaun’s dad and bothers, and a charity night of music and food at Old Albanians Rugby Club.

Shaun added: “I really wanted to do something to help the 21,000 young people in this country who like me have had their childhood compromised by Type 1 diabetes. I would really like the money we raise to go towards current research into an artificial pancreas which would change the lives of people like me dependent on injecting insulin.”

To donate or find out more information about Shaun’s fundraising efforts visit

The family are particularly looking for raffle and auction prizes for the charity event in September. Please contact Tina at

Information about current research into the artificial pancreas and other research projects is available at