Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Meningitis Now's Rebuilding Futures Fund helps enable Aimee's birthday surprise

Andy Hopkinson | 27th July 2021

Every child deserves a bike, and thanks to our Rebuilding Futures Fund 10-year-old Aimee has just received the perfect birthday present, which will enable her to enjoy cycling and explore the world around her again

Meningitis Now Rebuilding Futures Fund awards Aimee with trike

We’ve been delighted to team up with Gloucestershire-based specialist trike manufacturer Tomcat to help supply the sparkly pink birthday surprise trike for Aimee, who is unable to sit unaided, stand or walk following Group B Strep meningitis as a young baby, leaving her with Cerebral Palsy.

Mum Charlotte, 32, from Walsall, told us: “Aimee is a very happy giggly girl. She is always smiling and has an infectious laugh. She loves playing with her cousins and helping me take care of her baby sister Millie. She loves going to school and attends a local children's hospice for respite care, which she really enjoys.”

But it could have been very different. Aimee was just five days old when she was rushed to hospital due to fears of severe dehydration. The family’s world crumbled around them when they were told she had contracted meningitis and had just a 5% chance of survival and a 24-hour critical window.

Aimee pulled through, but the family returned home not knowing what her future held and as she began to reach milestone ages it became apparent that she wasn’t doing what was expected of her.

At nine months old Charlotte was told her daughter had Cerebral Palsy, leaving her unable to dress or take care of herself.

Eyes lit up

When Aimee was 3 though Charlotte saw her eyes light up as she watched other children ride by at the local park. She immediately set about looking into bikes for disabled children.

“Every child deserves a bike and I thought it was only right that Aimee had one too,” Charlotte said.

“A year later after fundraising with the support of the local community we had got the money to get her a trike. She loved it!

“We had been told she would never be able to make use of her legs - she doesn't really move them a lot - but as soon as she was on the trike she was pedalling by herself. I was in tears with joy.”

Unfortunately, Aimee then developed hip dysplasia which needed major surgery to correct, so was unable to use her trike due to the pain it caused.

“Now things are better and she is pain free from the success of the surgery I wanted to try her on her trike again to help build up her muscles.

“But when we did, she had had a growth spurt and outgrown it - I was gutted.” 

Undeterred, and with the support of her local community again, Charlotte looked to fund another trike for Aimee.  

Creative ways to raise money

“With the pandemic and not being able to meet up we tried to think of creative ways to raise money.  

“We held a virtual balloon race and raised a fair bit from that and also had raffles and donations from local businesses. The local community has been amazing. Times have been hard lately with Covid-19 and not having much money due to lack of work, but everyone pulled together to get Aimee her trike.” 

But even with the local support Charlotte was struggling to raise the final £1,000, until our Rebuilding Futures Fund stepped in to make up the shortfall. 

Cried when we got the award

“When I heard we had got the award I cried,” Charlotte said. “I really wanted the trike to come for Aimee’s birthday on Friday 23 July and time was running out. The amount the award was offering was the final amount we needed. It felt amazing to know we had got it in time.”

Aimee’s new trike is bespoke built to enable her to sit. The trike will have lateral supports with a chest harness so that she can cycle safely.  

“When she gets on it I know she’ll get excited to be going out and doing things children her age are doing that she can join in with,” Charlotte added. “She can't do most things other kids her age are doing but she can ride a bike and that gives us great joy. 

“I just want to say a massive thank you to Meningitis Now for providing funding to children like Aimee. 

“I can't wait to get Aimee out and watch her enjoying her new shiny pink trike.”

Meningitis Now Rebuilding Futures Fund awards Aimee with trike

Delighted to help

Meningitis Now’s Helpline and Information Manager, Claire Donovan, said: “We’re delighted to be able to help deliver this special birthday trike for Aimee through our Rebuilding Futures Fund. Happy Birthday Aimee! 

“We’re so pleased to know that the Fund is able to support Charlotte, her partner Matt and Aimee in this way and having such a positive impact on their lives.” 

Claire added: “We know meningitis can have a devastating impact on many aspects of life and affect people’s ability to engage in some of the things most people take for granted. 

“That’s where our Rebuilding Futures Fund can make such a difference by providing a practical solution that works.

“We’re proud to provide this unique, life-changing support – the only meningitis organisation to do so in the UK.”  

The joy of cycling

Nazia White, Marketing Manager at Tomcat, added: ‘We’re delighted to be part of the solution to help Aimee get back in the saddle. Her story is a lovely example of how our bespoke and innovative solutions mean no one need be excluded from the joy of cycling, whatever their physical ability or degree of learning difficulty.

“Being able to safely explore the world outside, no matter what the challenges, is a birth-right of all children and it’s great to help Aimee safely explore the world outside her home.”

Our Rebuilding Futures Fund provides financial, practical and emotional support for people of all ages affected by meningitis. 

It comprises four separate areas – Health and Wellbeing; Opportunities; Specialist Equipment; and Bereavement. Each area provides funding towards different types of support, but they are all designed to help people rebuild their futures with hope and confidence.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from the Rebuilding Futures Fund, please get in touch by contacting your Regional Support Officer or our Helpline, on 0808 80 10 388 or by emailing helpline@meningitisnow.org.

For more on Tomcat’s range see https://tomcatuk.org/.