“On New Year's Day 2001 we woke as normal and my six-month-old baby Bethany had her first feed.
“I got her ready for the day. She seemed quiet but nothing for me to worry about at that time. She had her normal morning nap but come her routine feeding time she didn't wake, so I thought maybe she was a little out of sorts and left her for another half an hour.
“Then, on trying to wake her, she was very lethargic and almost floppy, she didn't fully waken. I played with her awhile for her to come round but she was still not herself. She wouldn't take her bottle and was sick - she wasn't herself at all.
Never had a rash
“She never had a rash or anything. I took her straight up to Cumbria Health on Call (Choc) and the doctor there examined her and said it was a virus and to take her home and give her Calpol.
“I have three older children and I knew something wasn't right. I left the Choc and went straight to A&E, where they found one spot had developed. At this time they were still unsure of what it was but started treating her for meningitis. My daughter was rushed from our local hospital to Newcastle and the ambulance driver told my parents to prepare for the worst. I was only told this once my daughter got home!
Very lucky and thankful
“My daughter made a full recovery - we are very lucky and thankful. She had a head scan and hearing test and her immune system is very weak still. We acted quickly, but if I had listened to the first doctor who examined her then it doesn't bear thinking about.
“Bethany is now coming up to her 17th birthday. She is at college studying level 3 animal management and veterinary nursing and we are so proud of our beautiful 'fighter' - she really did fight through this horrible disease.
“I’m still very aware of meningitis. I now have grandchildren and I say to my children if you’re worried at all take them straight up to the hospital. When my daughter came home I was beside myself looking for signs she might get ill again. My health visitor said it was very unlikely that it would and told me I was depressed due to our traumatic ordeal and needed to seek help and support.
“My dad sent me a card after Bethany got home and was better. It reads ‘quick thinking saves lives, well done Penny in getting a second opinion, you saved Bethany's life.’ If we can help just one family from talking about our experience then it will be so worthwhile.”