We were confronted with meningitis very suddenly with the loss of our 14-year-old son Martin on 8th December 1999. The shock of Martin's death affected a large number of people in many different ways. In some respects it was a very public event.
Martin died of meningococcal septicaemia. Both parents and pupils at the school he attended were immediately concerned about the possibility of Martin having passed the bacteria on to them. The Headmaster, his staff and the local health authority alleviated their fears. The local papers and television stations also covered the story.
During this time we met Steve Dayman whilst searching for more information about meningitis. Steve, with his easy style of communicating showed us by example that there was a route away from our despair, which could be rewarding and therapeutic. By this time the family felt compelled to do something to mark the wonderful life of our son, all be that it was very short and his potential unfulfilled.
First tentative steps
It was some six months later before the family was able to take the first tentative steps towards raising funds and improving awareness about this vicious disease.
It was our brother-in-law who suggested holding a sponsored bike ride and we added in a barbeque to reward the riders after the event. Unfortunately the bike ride was cancelled due to the fuel shortage that year but we went ahead with the barbeque anyway. Over 200 people came to our home and we raised over £2,500. The bike ride went ahead later that year and more than thirty people rode over 500 miles and raised another £4,500.
The barbeque was such a great success that our friends asked us to repeat it; so we did the following July. Over 225 people came this time and we raised another £3,000.
We then held our first Christmas Gala Ball for 255 people at a local hotel and raised the staggering amount of £7,000. We also try to promote awareness at all of these social events.
Martin Finch Memorial Fund
The Martin Finch Memorial Fund was formalised in March 2001. The Fund's aims are to promote meningitis awareness locally, raise funds for the fight against meningitis, try and prevent other families from having to suffer at the hands of meningitis and to promote fun and enjoyment whilst doing so.
The fund and all of its work, plus the website are dedicated to the life and memory of our much-loved son Martin Luke Finch.
The family is determined to continue working in Martin's name for the discovery of a vaccine that works against all strains of this dreadful disease.