Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Congratulations from Meningitis Now to our amazing Paralympians

Andy Hopkinson | 2nd September 2021

We’re sure, like us, many of you have been watching with admiration and awe the exploits of Paralympics GB at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. What an inspiring bunch they are

Congratulations from Meningitis Now to 2021 Paralympians

Some of those taking part have battled and beaten meningitis and we love watching their achievements and celebrating their successes as they work to achieve their goals.

In particular, we’ve been thrilled to see 17-year-old swimmer Ellie Challis winning a silver medal at her first Paralympics in the Women's 50m backstroke S3·Swimming. Ellie has been known to us at Meningitis Now long before she took the swimming world by storm.

Ellie has told us: “I had meningitis at 16 months old and I became a four limb amputee. However, I have a lot of confidence and won’t let this stop me getting through my everyday life.

“My biggest challenge has been learning how to swim as it took me a couple of years to learn and I only pushed myself and believed I could swim after seeing another four limb amputee swim and I knew at that moment I could do it.”

Always been an absolute joy!

Father Paul, who has supported Ellie all of the way, said Ellie’s amputations have never stopped her. “I don’t feel like we have lived like a disabled family at all,” he said. “She has always been an absolute joy!”

Everyone at Meningitis Now is immensely proud of your achievements Ellie, well done!

Also making a big splash is one of our first Young Ambassadors, Lyndon Longhorne. Lyndon, 25, has been taking part in a range of events marking his debut Paralympic appearances, but it’s not his first brush with the Games – back in 2012 he carried the Olympic torch in the build up to the London Games.

Lyndon contracted meningitis as a 9-month-old leading to amputations of his right leg above the knee, his left leg below the knee, his right hand and the fingertips on his left.

Young Ambassador

He was introduced to pool swimming at the age of 1 by his grandfather and has never looked back since. It’s great to see him realising his dream of swimming at the Tokyo Paralympics and we’re delighted to see him there and performing so well.

Lyndon told us: “Since the day I was taken ill Meningitis Now has been there and supported my family all the way through from the start to the finish. I wanted to become a Young Ambassador so that I could help the charity out as much as I can, and let people know that Meningitis Now is there to help and support everyone through this horrible disease.”

Read more of Lyndon’s story here.

Rugby highlight

One of the highlights of the games so far though has undoubtedly been Paralympics GB’s gold medal winning performance in the wheelchair rugby, where they beat the USA in a tense final 54 – 49.

Helping them achieve this fantastic result were two team members we’ve supported along the way – Jim Roberts and Aaron Phipps.

Jim, 33, managed 24 tries and was top scorer as his side secured their historic win. 

He’d contracted bacterial meningitis and had to have both his legs and some fingers amputated shortly after completing his first year at Coventry University. Jim was introduced to wheelchair rugby while in hospital, was picked for the GB development squad in November 2012, and made his full Great Britain debut less than a year later in May 2013.

Aaron, who had meningitis in 1999 leading to the loss of his legs and most of his fingers, volunteers as an Ambassador for the Meningitis Research Foundation, alongside perhaps the best known Paralympian athlete, Jonnie Peacock, who has added a bronze medal to the two sprint golds he’d won at previous games.

Fantastic achievement

Our Chief Executive Dr Tom Nutt said: “What a fantastic achievement by our Paralympic sportsmen and women, especially those who have fought back from the devastation of meningitis. I’d like to add my congratulations to the chorus of congratulations for these amazing individuals on their performances.

“We’re delighted to celebrate their successes with them and see them spreading such positive awareness about living with the impact of meningitis. We stand ready to support them in the run up to Paris games in three years and support the next generation of Paralympian athletes.”

  • Meningitis Now CEO Dr Tom Nutt

    CEO Tom's round-up of the year

    We want to thank you for your ongoing support, without which Meningitis Now would not exist and the work we do would not be possible

  • Meningitis bacteria swab

    Meningococcal disease figures published

    Stay aware of the signs and symptoms, seek urgent medical advice if you suspect meningitis and keep up to date with all your vaccinations

  • Meningitis Now Young Ambassador Alex Williams

    Keeping in touch with The Believe & Achieve Trust

    Positive signals received from public health authorities about awareness activities and the benefits of joint working will enable both charities to go as far and wide as we can

  • Meningitis Now Junior Ambassador Harmonie-Rose

    Junior Ambassador Harmonie-Rose

    Steve Dayman talks about the family's resilience shining through when he first met them in 2014 – little did he or the family know how truly inspirational this little girl would be