Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Meningitis Now supporters joining us for Five Valleys Walk on Sunday

Andy Hopkinson | 27th September 2019

We’re looking forward to lots of you joining us for our annual flagship Five Valleys Walk this weekend and keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will be kind to us

Meningitis Now Five Valleys Walk supported by Sillett family after death of student Andrew

Advance ticket sales have been good but if you haven’t got yours yet, don’t worry – you can just turn up at any of our eight checkpoints and pay on the day. It would be good to see more than 2,000 of you tackling our 21-mile route up, down and over the hills and valleys around Stroud.

So, if you didn’t have plans for Sunday 29 September, you do now!

Among those we know will be joining us on the day is an extended family group from the Sillett family, who are walking in memory of Andrew. Andrew was in his first year at university when he lost his life to meningitis.

Dad Chris, one of the walkers, told us, “That was 20 years ago now and the entire family still misses him terribly."

“We wonder what he might have become if he had not fallen ill."

Much-needed resources

“The sudden nature of his passing left us all numb and we were grateful for the support offered by meningitis charities, who were on hand to help us through a very difficult time. Ever since then we have been fundraising to try and help provide much-needed resources.”

Andrew’s father, brothers, sisters-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces will all be taking part and between them have raised over £4,750 so far. You can support their efforts at

Their involvement demonstrates one of the best things about our Five Valleys Walk - with different fitness and ability levels, you don’t have to do the full 21 miles. Instead, you can walk between whichever checkpoints work best for you and get one of our courtesy Stagecoach buses back to your start point when you’re ready to call it a day.

That’s what the Sillett family will be doing. The team members not walking the whole route plan to meet those who are at Stroud Cricket Club so they can all walk the section to Nailsworth together. Thank you, Chris and everyone for your support.

Corporate supporters walking too

Others to look out for as you make your way round the walk include teams from two of our valued corporate supporters.

A team of 17 from our Brighter Futures partner, the Birmingham-based law firm Anthony Collins Solicitors  will also be striding out. 

And there will also be a team from the Gloucestershire-based law firm Loxley, who have kindly chosen us as their Charity of the Year.

Our Corporate Fundraiser Matt Stephenson said, “It’s great to see our legal partners getting involved in our flagship event and we’re really grateful to them both for their support. We hope they enjoy the event.”

Freya believes

You can also look out for our young peer mentor Freya Stealey. Art graduate Freya had meningitis aged 23 in 2016 and spent seven days in intensive care. As she recovered she became depressed about her after-effects, but thanks to getting involved in our Believe & Achieve programme now finds herself in a much better place.

“A year on I've gained so much more confidence, positivity and self-worth,” she says.

Freya, her partner and her parents are taking on the full circuit. “The idea is to try and walk 21 miles,” she said. “It's only been a year since I've been able to walk one mile so we shall see how far I get!”

Then there’s our brightly coloured unicorn friend – Charlie Rees (he should be hard to miss). Read why Charlie’s getting involved here. And last but by no means least Laura and John Newell from Bristol, who are taking part to give thanks for their then 17-month-old twin daughter Sadie’s recovery from pneumococcal meningitis last year. You can read more about her story here.

Just a few of the stories

These are just a few of the people who will be taking part this weekend – each with their own moving meningitis tale to tell. Their stories illustrate why it’s still so important to fundraise and donate to fight this devastating disease, so please support them and us if you can.

Don’t forget, our Five Valleys Walk is suitable for all ages and abilities. You can choose your distance to suit you – from just a couple of miles to the full 21 miles. You can also start and finish at any checkpoint and once you’re ready to call it a day, a Stagecoach bus will be on hand to offer you a free ride back to your starting point.

Checkpoint One will be located at the Stroud Cricket Club, with ample parking for you to leave your car and the opportunity to enjoy a selection of food and drink. Checkpoints will open at 8.30am and will be closing at 5.30pm, except for the Cricket Club. This will stay open until 10pm for you to wind down, rest those sore feet and relax before you head home.

Car parking is also available at the Nailsworth checkpoint, although spaces are limited. 

Dogs are welcome to join you on the walk of course and our helpful Handbook, available when you register on the day, will give you all the information you need about the route and our checkpoints.

Vital funds

Event organiser, our fundraising manager Leah Wynn, said, ”The Five Valleys Walk raises vital funds for our ongoing research, awareness and support work to beat meningitis and we’re really grateful to all those who choose to join us on the day. With your support we can continue to fight meningitis together."

“We’re also really grateful to all the local companies – large and small – who support our Five Valleys Walk and help make it the special event it is. We really couldn’t manage it without you – thank you.”

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