Family urges others to be vigilant for meningitis symptoms

First published in News

A year on from the tragic death of their daughter, a Burton family is reminding people to be vigilant and look out for the signs of meningitis.

Hannah Gwilliam was only 18 when she died from meningococcal meningitis B on January 26th, 2012, just 24 hours after becoming unwell.

Parents Ann and Roy Gwilliam said the news that a vaccine to cover 73% of meningitis B strains was licensed last week was “bittersweet”

as it comes too late for Hannah and other families.

Ann said they had heard of a further four deaths of people aged from 13 months to 61, in recent weeks, highlighting that the illness can strike at any age.

“We encourage everyone to back the Meningitis UK campaign to urgently introduce the vaccine not only in childhood immunisation programme but also in 14 to 24-year-olds who are vulnerable as they become more sociable.

“When Hannah died last year we were supported in our grief by Steve Dayman, founder of Meningitis UK, who himself lost a 14-month-old son to meningitis 30 years ago. Indeed it was through Steve’s tireless campaigning that the meningitis C vaccine was introduced.

He says he will not rest until he sees all forms of meningitis eradicated,” said Ann.

Hannah’s family set up a Forever Fund with Meningitis UK in her name, raising an amazing £52,000.

Ann added: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in raising such a staggering sum in so short a time. Too many tireless individuals to name, but you know who you are.

“We like to think that the scale of the challenges and variety of events is a testimony to Hannah’s vibrant and fun-loving personality.

"The events include walks, half-marathons and bikerides, a food fair, cake sales and raffles, sky-diving and hiking and camping the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in the wet weather of July, scaling mountains and the Pembrokeshire bike ride in August, racing the train and wacky baked bean baths, sponsored head and moustache shaves, musical gigs and more recently the Tenby Boxing Day Swim.

“We are grateful to all those who took part in some tough personal challenges and also to the generosity of the people who dug deep in their pockets to support the events.

“You can also be reassured that by supporting Meningitis UK, you are contributing to the campaign to beat meningitis.”

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