Libby, Charlotte and Lottie met through our Believe & Achieve programme whilst on a residential trip to center parcs last year.
That’s where the idea of taking on the challenge of the Five Valleys Walk was born.
Having bonded over their shared experiences of meningitis, as well as all of the activities of a B&A weekend, the three young women were keen to find a way to get together again to represent Meningitis Now. Being part of Believe & Achieve and the wider charity is something each of them is very proud of.
Libby, who had pneumococcal meningitis when she was 11 months old says: “I am now 24 and have been on a journey learning to manage my after-effects. I contacted Meningitis Now when I was at university and they have been a massive support through the Believe & Achieve programme. They have put me in touch with other young people affected by meningitis and helped me to understand and accept my after-effects.”
Libby isn’t daunted by the 21.6 mile route around the Stroud valleys, as she regularly takes her Jackapoo out to the beach or woods near her home in Devon. For Libby, the Five Valleys Walk won’t just be about getting together with friends and donning a bright orange t-shirt but will be an opportunity to walk in memory of her cousin, Nicky, who died of meningococcal septicaemia when he was 18 years old:
“Before Nicky, our family didn’t know a lot about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and I hope now this is becoming much more spoken about. I am doing this walk with Charlotte and Lottie to help raise awareness of meningitis and the after-effects. I am doing this in Nicky’s memory.”
Libby, Charlotte and Lottie all went through very similar experiences of meningitis as babies, but the after-effects of the disease continue to impact their lives today – something they’ll all be aware of on the day of the walk.
Libby says: “I think we all have an unspoken, shared understanding and when we are at events, we don’t need to explain our after -effects. It feels like a really supportive and safe space. For example, if I one of us was feeling really fatigued or our memory is impacted everyone understands.”
Charlotte is keen to take on the Five Valleys Walk to, “help ensure that Meningitis Now can continue their fight against this devastating disease.” Similarly to Libby, Charlotte contracted meningitis as a baby, and still struggles with the invisible after-affects of her meningitis experience.
Getting involved with Believe & Achieve helped Charlotte to achieve her dream of getting her law degree:
"B&A has had a massive impact on my life. By attending their events, I have met others affected by meningitis, many of whom quickly became friends for life. Thanks to the support of B&A, I have also learned to manage the invisible after-effects of meningitis, such as fatigue and brain fog, which has allowed me to (finally!) complete my BA in law.”
Charlotte wants to support Meningitis Now to be able to continue offering more young people like herself the chance to get involved, regain confidence, and meet new friends. She’s passionate about spreading awareness, and inspiring others to get involved:
“People should sign up for the Five Valleys walk because meningitis can affect anyone at any time, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure the support is there for when meningitis does strike.”
Lottie contracted bacterial meningitis in her first year of university in October 2019. She says:
“Initially when I began to show signs and symptoms, I thought that I had food poisoning or had picked up freshers’ flu. I was very lucky to receive urgent treatment in hospital and recover from the disease.”
Believe & Achieve has been an instrumental part of Lottie’s recovery. Before participating in the programme she had very limited knowledge or understanding of the after-effects and complications associated with meningitis:
“B&A has not only given me a better understanding of meningitis, but I’ve received an incredible amount of support. The programme enabled me to meet Libby and Charlotte - two amazing girls who, like me, both have experienced meningitis.”
Libby is excited to be able to walk the Five Valleys with her new friends:
“I feel so proud and thankful to be able to walk alongside Libby and Charlotte and raise money for this incredible charity. I have never done a walking challenge before - usually the furthest I walk is to the local shop!”
Lottie has a plan to tackle the walk though; “My plan is to take a steady pace with lots of breaks, I look forward to seeing everyone on the various posts and seeing all the familiar faces from Meningitis Now.”
To join these inspirational Believe & Achievers, as well as thousands of other keen walkers and families, please join us on 24th of September for the Five Valleys Walk.