Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Emma's Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge after meningitis

Andy Hopkinson | 17th June 2021

The Yorkshire Three Peaks route is 24 miles (38.6km). It takes on the peaks of Pen-y-ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736) and Ingleborough (723) in under 12 hours

Emma's Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge after meningitis

These form part of the Pennine range, and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. And our supporter Emma Hardwick has just completed it, as she tells us here.

''On 29 May 2021, me and seven members of my family took on the Yorkshire Three Peak challenge for Meningitis Now. This is something I have been wanting to do for years, having survived meningitis when I was 16-years-old back in 2012.  

“I contracted meningococcal septicaemia and meningitis a few weeks before I was to take my GCSEs.

“I remember it being the last day at school before we broke up for two weeks and I started to feel poorly with achy joints and a headache.

“I was supposed to be going to a friend’s party but instead I went home and slept all the way through until 2am. My mum found me on the bathroom floor with the window wide open.

Light was so painful

“I just remember the light being so painful and seeing the rash on my stomach.

“Mum lifted me into the bath and turned on the cold water and my dad rang 999.

“Doctors told my parents that if I made it through the next 48 hours I could possibly be severely brain damaged.

“Luckily, I did make it, but I spent about two weeks in hospital and was transferred three times.

“The doctor who treated me saw me a month later and said he never expected to be having a conversation with me. This is the most eye-opening part of my story because when I look at where I am now it doesn’t even seem real.

Lasting after-effects

“It was a slow 12 months recovering at home and even though I will always have to deal with lasting after-effects such as Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), anxiety, migraines and vascular damage – the list could go on – I’m just incredibly grateful that I’m here.

“My story doesn’t even begin to show the devastating effects meningitis can have and I’m thankful for the incredible team of paramedics, doctors, nurses and my family and friends.”

Before taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Emma told us, “This event is going to be a challenge, but I’ve always wanted to raise money for Meningitis Now as they do such an amazing job spreading awareness and supporting those who have been affected or lost loved ones.”

So, how was it?

“The challenge itself was probably the hardest thing (mentally and physically) I have ever done, but it was worth every minute. 

Emma's Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge after meningitis

Shock to the system

“We set off at 6am and the first peak - Ingleborough - was a shock to our system as we did not expect it to be so intense so soon. So many thoughts ran through my head, such as "I can’t do this", to "I have made a mistake", but then you remember, "If I can survive meningitis, I can get through this". 

“The second peak, Pen-y-ghent, was just as intense, if not more and this is where a few tears came out as well as battling against the heat. But with the support of my family and boyfriend, I pushed through it again. 

“The last peak, Whernside, was the easiest by far, even though our legs were like jelly and we couldn't feel our feet. Just knowing that you are so close to reaching the top and the accomplishment you start to feel is phenomenal. 

“We finished in 11 hours 59 minutes, just under the 12 hour mark!

Emma's Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge after meningitis

Scenery is incredible

“Even though the Yorkshire Three Peak challenge is tough, the scenery and views you see around you are incredible and really makes you take a step back and realise how far you have come and to be really grateful for everything around you. It's also lovely the number of people you meet along the way and the support you give each other to keep going.

“I would not let the thought of this challenge being hard, put you off. It is hard, but it is probably one of the best things I have experienced, and I could not be prouder of myself or my family for completing it. 

“Being left with lifelong after-effects from meningitis (one of them being vascular disease), is one of the reasons I wanted to do this challenge, to prove to myself that I cannot let it stop me from doing what I want to do. If you're thinking of doing it, don't let anything stop you.

“We have raised a total of £1,290 so far and the support of friends, family, strangers and the Meningitis Now charity is amazing.  

“I just want to thank Meningitis Now for their support and everything they have done to help and contribute towards our challenge. The support and work they do every day for everyone who has been affected by meningitis is incredible. 

“Now myself and my family are thinking of doing the National Three Peaks next year (this one might take some more convincing though!).”

Our Fundraising Assistant, Kat Hollywell, said: “Emma and her family are such an inspiration! 

“After having to delay their event following last year’s lockdowns, it was wonderful to see how passionate they are about the charity and we are so grateful for their amazing fundraising. 

“Meningitis Now is always here to support families whose lives have been affected by this terrible disease and it is so lovely that Emma, like so many of our wonderful supporters, wanted to give back to the charity following her own experience.”

Have a look at our Fundraising Events pages if you would like to follow in Emma’s footsteps and are looking for challenge event inspiration.