Bobby lost his daughter Akira to meningococcal septicaemia 15 years ago and understands only too well why everyone should get behind the campaign to protect children from this devastating disease.
“Every life that can be saved is precious” he says in an article in The Guardian newspaper, “no matter what the Government’s arguments are for restricting access.
The petition to extend the vaccine’s use unlocked strong emotions in Bobby, a well-known comic writer who is generously donating Royalties from sales of the Kindle edition of his book ‘Skank – The World’s Most Dangerous Comic Book’ to us.
For those who don’t remember, Skank was a satirical black culture comic inspired by people Bobby knew in 1990s Peckham. Now, some 20 years after the comic was last published, he’s collected some of the most popular strips into a collection just published.
Horrific series of events
In 2001 what was meant to be a short, relaxing break in Dominica turned into a horrific series of events that ended with a phone call informing Bobby that his beloved daughter Akira had died, two days before her third birthday.
“The disease systematically shut down her body,” Bobby says. “The blood poisoning left her with marks that ravaged her tiny frame to a point where members of her own family could barely recognise her.
“In her last moments I was told Akira called out for me.
“My heart broke. I went numb. How was I supposed to deal with such terrible pain?
“I didn’t do very well. A part of me died for ever. I ran away from the world and locked myself inside my house trying my best to figure it all out.
A friendly ear
“In the early days of her passing Meningitis Now was helpful with regards to counselling and being a friendly ear.
“At the end of 2001, I was writing skits for the BBC1 show Lenny Henry in Pieces. I remember being in the BBC green room and everyone around me was enjoying the sketches on the screen. I remained solemn.
“Lenny came up to me and said: ‘Cheer up man – your sketches are going to be on the telly’. I smiled meekly but felt my loss – knowing full well that Akira would never see any of my successes and in turn, I would never get to see hers. I would never see her grow up.
“That’s why I am passionate about the MenB vaccine. It should be given to all children. No question.
Remembering a beautiful girl
“This year the anniversary of Akira’s passing was a particularly tough one. Had she lived, she would have been 18. We honoured her with a big party and remembered a beautiful girl who meant so much to so many people.
“I may never fully recover from Akira’s loss. I sometimes think that maybe her death could have been prevented, but I’ll never know as she wasn’t given that chance.
“We need to change Government thinking, so lives can be saved.
You can find out more about Skank and Bobby and Akira’s story below