Say hello to Summer and Jemma

16th November 2015

We’d like to introduce you to Summer Whittaker and Jemma Pressman, the newest members of our Young Ambassador team

Summer and Jemma YA letterbox
You may already recognise their names – both Summer and Jemma are dedicated Meningitis Now supporters and have first-hand experience of the effects meningitis can have.  

They will join our team of 37 young ambassadors who fundraise, campaign, raise awareness and provide support on our behalf.

Want to know more about them? 

Meet Summer 

Summer, 22, has been a passionate supporter and alongside us since her fiancé, (and one of our Young Ambassadors) Jacob Gray was struck by meningococcal septicaemia in 2013. 

Jacob was given just a 10% chance of survival and lost both his legs to the disease. This had a huge impact on both their lives.

“Jacob and I had been together one year before he contracted meningitis. As soon as I met him I knew he was something special.”

“I felt my heart break when Jacob told me to leave him and live my life but I couldn’t see my future without him. I knew it would be a difficult journey, but meningitis gave us a strength that made our relationship, and us, indestructible.”

“Jacob spent 699 days in hospital, becoming a double amputee. We both went through some of our darkest times but the support from Meningitis Now pulled us through.”

“Almost three years after meningitis, the opportunities Jacob and I have had from this experience is something we will never take for granted. I wish that this didn’t happen, but then it would have happened to somebody else.”

“This whole journey has been the most difficult chapter of my life and I can never repay Meningitis Now for being there for Jacob when I felt so weak, but I will do all I can to support their future and support anyone in need.”

Summer Whittaker, Young Ambassador

Summer has also been a huge help in developing the ‘Fight For Now’ website and student campaign materials, utilising her graphic design skills and experience.

Meet Jemma 

You may have already seen Jemma’s story on our website. Jemma, 21, contracted meningitis group Y and encephalitis during her second year at university. 

Meningitis had a huge impact on her life. She spent nearly a year in hospital and although her condition has improved significantly with physiotherapy and counselling, it still isn’t over yet. 

Horse riding lessons and counselling have helped Jemma improve her confidence, strength and understanding of the disease, prompting her to become a Young Ambassador. 

“I don’t remember much of the early days after contracting the disease – I was confused and didn’t understand what had happened. I couldn’t move or breathe without assistance and had to relearn the most basic of things, like breathing, swallowing and moving my arms and legs.” 

“The horse riding lessons have been amazing. They allow me to go to a different environment every week, spending time with different people. Physically the lessons test all my muscles, especially my core, back and thighs. I feel like I fit in again so physically and emotionally it has been very beneficial."

“I know how terrible this disease is so I’m honoured to join the team. It’s vital to be are aware of symptoms - acting fast can save lives.”

Jemma Pressman, Young Ambassador

Keep your eyes peeled for more updates from Summer and Jemma on ‘Fight for Now’!