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Kevin's story

11th November 2014

Teacher Kevin Leaver died from meningococcal septicaemia just hours after being admitted to hospital. Here his wife Lesley tells his story

Kevin's story

Died within hours

"On the first day of the new millennium my husband and I walked on Ilkley Moor. It was a beautiful clear bright day and we could see for miles. We had lots of plans and were looking forward to the increased freedom we would have - Claire was in her first year at university and Laura was coming up to her GCSEs.

Little did we know that just days later Kevin would die from meningococcal septicaemia, only five hours after being admitted to hospital.

Despite having the rash all over his body, terrible stomach pains and very cold hands and feet plus 'flu-like' symptoms, meningitis was not immediately diagnosed.

By the time he was taken to hospital later that morning he was desperately ill, and watching him deteriorate over such a short time was heart-breaking. When the crash team came in to try and resuscitate him I had to take the girls out, we couldn't watch, neither could we take it in when the doctors told us that he had died."

Talented teacher

"Kevin had taught at the same school for 28 years and was a talented teacher. The whole community was shocked beyond belief. Even now many of us are nowhere near coming to terms with his death.

In the dark weeks that followed, Steve Dayman supported the three of us by visiting, writing, telephoning and putting us in touch with other people who had suffered the same tragedy - you don't realise how many people there are out there suffering like you.

We felt terrible guilt thinking that there was something we should have done, the three of us for different reasons blamed ourselves.

Steve reassured us that we were not to blame and that the disease can be so rampant when it takes hold that often there is little anyone can do.

By supporting the work of Meningitis Now we want to try and reduce the number of people who are suffering as we are."

Love of my life

"On January 7, 2001 I lost the love of my life, my daughters lost a father who always had time for them and the school lost a very special teacher. Our lives changed beyond belief the day Kevin died, it was a life we all loved so much.

All this happened at the height of the Meningitis C vaccination programme and at a time when the number of deaths from meningitis was at a 50 year high.

There is still a lot to do on both the research and education front. Meningitis Now is making a significant contribution to achieving both of these objectives."