Meningitis Now staff member Rachel Oakley

Fundraising for Meningitis Now at the German Christmas markets

Rachel Oakley | 19th June 2020

Sylvia, from Houghton-Le-Spring, Tyne & Wear, has been running annual trips to the German Christmas markets for a number of years, after her husband Len became seriously unwell with meningitis in 1995

German Christmas markets fundraising trip for Meningitis Now

As the coronavirus lockdown restrictions start to lift, Sylvia is very much hoping that the next trip, planned for 26 November to 2 December, will be able to go ahead – and she’d love other Meningitis Now supporters to join her!

“My husband Len contracted meningitis 25 years ago, aged 38, which also caused a stroke, leaving him with short term memory problems, sight loss, reading and writing problems and he has been unable to work since.

“We raised funds for the charity back then, with various activities including a balloon release, a family fun weekend and Len took part in the Three Peaks Challenge, with the help of his friend Bernard.

“In January of this this year, Len became critically ill very quickly and was rushed to hospital with sepsis and meningitis again, caused by an ear infection. He spent 8 days in intensive care and a total of 19 days in hospital. Luckily he seems to making a full recovery, but does need further surgery on his ear, to prevent further infections. He's also had all the meningitis vaccines as an added precaution.

A really friendly bunch

“With a career background in fundraising I have been organising an annual trip to Germany and the Christmas markets for the last 17 years, with all of the profits going to various charities. During this time the event has raised well over £100,000 and we have visited some beautiful parts of Germany, including the Rhine & Mosel, Berlin and the Black Forest. I had decided to share the profits of this year’s trip to the Black Forest with Meningitis Now and the charity I currently work for, when COVID-19 hit, halting all my plans.

“Luckily, the lovely family-run hotel we stay at in Oberharmersbach has promised to hold my booking until October, to give me the opportunity of still running the event.”

There are a number of conditions that will need to be met in order for Sylvia to confirm the trip can go ahead – not least of all whether international travel is allowed due to the coronavirus pandemic – but she is hopeful that the trip will still happen; it includes 5 nights bed, breakfast and evening meal in Oberharmersbach, excursions to a number of Christmas markets (including Triberg, which is famous for its spectacular waterfall), a visit to a cuckoo clock maker, a brewery tour and a schnapps tasting experience. Travel by coach and overnight ferry including cabin will also be included.

Sylvia says, “We are a really friendly bunch, with a mix of new and seasoned travellers – some have been with me for many years and we always welcome the newbies!

“I do hope you will consider joining us this year, if we can travel, to raise what will definitely be much needed funds for Meningitis Now. Please do get in touch for further details; you can email me at sylvia.stoneham@hotmail.co.uk or call 07544 567 161.”

For full details of this and previous trips, you can visit Sylvia’s Facebook page Germany and the Christmas Markets.

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