Ray Gravell's TV tale warns of diabetes dangers
A NEW documentary following rugby legend Ray Gravell and his battle with diabetes up until his untimely death will be broadcast on Monday.
The larger-than-life character who became a beloved radio presenter and commentator after retiring from the game was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001.
In April 2007, Ray had to have his right leg amputated.
Shortly afterwards, BBC Cymru Wales contacted Ray with an unexpected proposition — would he be interested in making a television documentary about his recovery after surgery?
The answer, after he'd taken time to consider the matter carefully with his family, was that he would.
He wanted people to see the dreadful effects of his illness and his recovery over time. He also knew that such a programme would help raise awareness about diabetes.
The production team was allowed to film and experience life with Ray, his wife Mari, and their daughters, Gwenan and Manon — the highs and the lows, in public and in private.
But only six months later, on October 31, 2007, when the family was on holiday in Spain, Ray died of a heart attack brought on by complications caused by diabetes.
For over five years the programme footage remained unseen but on New Year's Day 2013, the Welsh language programme, Grav: 'Sdim Cywilydd Mewn Llefain was broadcast on S4C and was warmly received.
When the programme was originally filmed, footage had also been recorded in English and, as his family's wish is that this, too, is shown to raise awareness about the dangers of diabetes, it will be broadcast for the first time as part of Live Longer Wales — a season of programmes from BBC Cymru Wales inspiring people to change their lives.
Ray Gravell: Life with Diabetes follows life with Ray Gravell and his family as he recovers from the trauma of surgery and gets used to living with a prosthetic limb.
The programme also includes new interviews conducted recently with Ray's wife, Mari, and their daughter, Manon, who is now 18.
Mari explains that, before Ray's diagnosis, neither of them knew much about the disease.
The programme also includes an interview with Meurig Williams, a specialist in diabetes at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.
When Ray was diagnosed, Meurig was his consultant, but on the programme he reveals how he first came across Ray at a much younger age.
Meurig's message on the programme is a stark one about the steps he believes need to be taken to fight back against diabetes.
Ray's wife Mari said: "Anybody watching the programme who thinks that they may have diabetes, don't be afraid to go and check it out — you need to do that.
"It's a complete change of lifestyle I suppose, and that is difficult, but there's a lot of help available now, so it's the sooner the better."
Ray Gravell: Life With Diabetes is broadcast at 8.30pm on Monday, October 21 on BBC One Wales.