Young Hartlepool snooker champ thanks medics after national success

Debbie McHugh with Sean McAllister.
Debbie McHugh with Sean McAllister.

A talented Hartlepool youngster has thanked NHS staff for helping him on his way to snooker stardom.

Sean McAllister was recently crowned the country’s best young player and went along to show the diabetes team at the town’s hospital his trophy.

Lisa Hornby, Year Manager at St Hilds Church of England School; Sean and his mum Tracy in 2015.

Lisa Hornby, Year Manager at St Hilds Church of England School; Sean and his mum Tracy in 2015.

The 17-year-old has developed into one of the brightest teenage snooker prospects around, despite the challenges he has faced being treated for type 1 diabetes.

Sean, a student at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, has achieved all of this with the help of staff in the children’s diabetes service at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust who have carefully managed and treated his condition.

After recently winning the English under 18 snooker championship, he returned to the University Hospital of Hartlepool to thank staff for their help.

The former St Hild’s School pupil said: “Staff here have been fantastic – without them I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have.

My dream is to be a professional snooker player and, thanks to the staff here, I know that having diabetes will not stop me from doing that

Sean McAllister

“My dream is to be a professional snooker player and, thanks to staff here, I know that having diabetes will not stop me from doing that.

“If I want to achieve this, it’s important I can manage this while travelling to other countries and in the middle of long matches. Now I know I can do this.”

The diabetes team have fitted Sean with a glucose sensor which is inserted under the skin to measure sugar levels.

It can quickly detect if glucose is reaching a high or low level – something which is very important for Sean during matches.

His mum, Tracy, said: “Sean was only four when he first started feeling unwell. We were on a family holiday in Bulgaria and he was so unwell that he ended up spending a week in hospital there.

“Since then we have been coming to Hartlepool hospital every three months where his glucose levels are checked.

“If Sean’s blood sugar levels are not right, then that can affect his snooker. Thanks to the sensor, we know immediately if there is an issue and we can quickly treat it – normally by having something to eat.”

Debbie McHugh, paediatric diabetes specialist nurse, said: “It’s fantastic to see Sean excelling and proving that a diabetes diagnosis should never hold anyone back from fulfilling their full potential.

“Diabetes is very treatable once we have an understanding of a patient’s blood sugar levels and how to manage this with insulin. If we do this then we can completely avoid a patient getting hypoglycaemia from low blood glucose levels, which cause symptoms such as shaking, sweating, tiredness and headaches.”