Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Gavin beats meningitis and takes on the Great North Run

Clara Wiggins | 17th January 2020

More than thirty years after contracting meningitis, Sunderland man Gavin Jarvis is tackling one of our most iconic running events to raise money for Meningitis Now

Gavin's meningitis story

As a schoolchild, Gavin’s parents realised there was something urgently wrong with their son when he couldn’t even stand to look out the window at the sunshine. Now he wants to ensure he helps spreads the awareness message by taking part in the Great North Run.

The run takes place on 13 September this year and will take participants 13.1 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields. It is known as one of the biggest half marathons in the world and often includes top athletes like Mo Farah. 

Gavin said that as a child he experienced meningitis first hand. “I woke up one summer morning feeling achy and couldn’t stand to look out of my bedroom window at the beautiful sunshine,” he said about his schoolchild experience of meningitis. 

“So I laid in bed with the covers over my head. It wasn’t long before my brothers and parents realised something was wrong and got me to the local doctors."

“There my parents were told I had meningitis. I was only at primary school so I didn’t know what was going on but I was rushed to my local hospital to receive treatment.”

According to Gavin, he was only in hospital for two weeks – and said that as he gets older he has realised how lucky he was to have recovered from meningitis unscathed. 

Give something back

“Now I am in my forties with my own family and I started running in December 2018,” he added. “I have always wanted to do the Great North Run so I started training, building up my miles and fitness and now I really feel I am ready to give something back to everyone who helped me with my illness."

“This is why I want to raise money for Meningitis Now”.

Meningitis Now’s Events Fundraising Manager Kirsty Owen-Hayward said she always enjoyed hearing why people wanted to fundraise for the charity – especially if they had had a personal meningitis experience.

“Gavin might have contracted meningitis many years ago, but it evidently still affects him all these years on so it’s great to hear he wants to raise money and awareness to prevent others getting the disease,” she said.

“The Great North Run is a fantastic experience, and this year is a really special one as it’s the 40th anniversary of the event - so I hope he will really love taking part.

”We will certainly enjoy having him on the team – and I look forward to cheering him on all the way to the finishing line on what I am sure will be a fabulous day!”

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