Former EastEnders star Jonny Labey says medical diagnosis was ‘overwhelming’ after hospital dash

Taken without permission from Instagram: ,, , Jonny Labey who played Paul Coker in Eastenders

EX-EASTENDERS star Jonny Labey has opened up about his diabetes diagnosis and how he hopes to inspire others with the condition. 

The TV and theatre actor was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a a teenager. The chronic condition means the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to support the body, meaning sugar doesn’t enter the cells and produce energy needed to function. 

Jonny Labey is raising awareness for diabetes on World Diabetes Month

The star was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15

As Jonny, best known for playing Paul Coker on EastEnders, prepares to perform his new show Top Hat, the 29-year-old revealed the scary moment he realised he was sick and needed help. 

“It was during the GCSE stresses and apart from a general lack of sleep from exams, I was unexplainably tired and felt that no matter how much or quickly I drank, I’d still be thirsty,” he told HOAR Online. 

“So, I got tested as I measured my blood on my Grandad’s monitor and it was 26.6, which is dangerously low, so I went immediately to hospital – and the rest is history!” 

“It was very cautiously measured in the beginning, but didn’t have too much of an effect apart from the occasional realisation moment. It was overwhelming at times, but so long ago that I don’t remember.”

Officially diagnosed at 15, Jonny admits his biggest fears were about how it could potentially stall his career as a performer. 

Clearly, his worries were unfounded, and now he’s appearing as Jerry Travers in the upcoming performances at The Mill At Sonnings for Christmas. The role was made famous by Fred Astaire in the 1935 movie of the same name. 

He hopes that others with diabetes can be inspired by his story. 

“Type one has become me, as well as my knowledge of meals and diet, which benefits my health and makes me stronger mentally. So, I would say – don’t shy away or be embarrassed about it,” he told us. “Own being that diabetic mate or the carbohydrate king/queen. It will teach others about the condition, but also make you feel like you’re not a burden. 

“It’s a very solo condition, so most people won’t even know you have something to think about – whilst also being constantly ruled by it. 

“It’s okay to let people in and to look after yourself – and actually, most people will want to help.”

Jonny is supporting the #BlueBalloonChallenge which will continue until the end of National Diabetes Month, on November 31st. 

Organised by Medtronic, the global leader in healthcare technology, the challenge invites members of the public to step into the shoes of those who live with diabetes by posting a photo or film themselves as they try to keep a balloon in the air, a metaphor for the constant balancing act required to manage diabetes. 

For every post Medtronic will donate €5 to Life for a Child, a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing life-saving insulin and basic medical devices to children with diabetes in developing countries.

The actor is due to star in an upcoming production of Top Hat

Jonny Labey is most recognised for his role as Les and Pam Coker’s grandson Paul Coker in EastEnders