It was New Year’s Eve and Teaching Assistant, Emily, was just 19 when she was struck down with meningococcal group B meningitis.
Emily had shown no signs of being unwell over Christmas and just hours after collapsing on New Year’s Eve, her parents had to make the heart-breaking decision to turn off the machines keeping her alive. As others celebrated the start of the New Year, Emily’s family were going through the tragedy of losing their daughter.
Mum, Julia, told us some of her favourite memories about Emily:
“Emily was born two weeks early in March 1994. We have so many wonderful memories of our precious daughter, who was not only a daughter but an older sister of Sophie, granddaughter, cousin, niece, girlfriend to Ben Older and best friend to so many.”
“She had the most wonderful enthusiasm for the little things in life. She loved special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, birthdays and bonfire night.”
“Emily had fantastic and brave personal qualities. She was determined, kind, empathetic and thoughtful. She was always there for those who needed a friend or a kind word.”
“Emz also had the funniest too-loud laugh that often had friends and family giggling along. You always knew how she felt - if she was angry or sad, happy or thoughtful. She was so loving, often climbing right into your lap and always giving you the most wonderful hugs - even at 19!”
“She had so much more to give and our immeasurable loss is for all that was yet to come. A place had just been confirmed for Emily at Winchester University – she had just spent two years working as a teaching assistant.”
“She would have been a brilliant teacher, wife and mummy, but sadly was denied these chances to shine.”
Since Emily’s death, Julia and her family have continued to support Meningitis Now, raising awareness and vital funds in her memory. They have been campaigning alongside us for the introduction of the Men B (Bexsero) vaccine for babies, which is now part of the UK childhood immunisation programme, and continue to campaign for the vaccine to be offered to young adolescents - another high risk group.
Since the introduction of the Men ACWY vaccination, offered free to all 17 to 18-year-olds and all university entrants, aged 19-25, Julia has campaigned alongside Meningitis Now, urging teenagers to get vaccinated before heading to university.