Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Taking on the Great North Run to fight meningitis

Andy Hopkinson | 23rd January 2020

A mum from Cockermouth in Cumbria is taking on this year’s Great North Run – the 40th running of the iconic half marathon – to help fight back against meningitis

Lennon and Laura letterbox

Laura Burns is supporting us to say thank you for our support after her 4-month-old son Lennon became ill with pneumococcal meningitis in July 2018. Thankfully, the plucky youngster went on to make a good recovery from the disease.

“During the most difficult days and nights we prayed like our lives depended on it and we tried not to lose hope,” Laura said. “The trauma we experienced as a family impacted on us all but thankfully he has made an amazing recovery."

“It is now so important to me to raise awareness.”

Perfect time

The 31-year-old mother of two has always wanted to take part in the Great North Run. Finding a charity so close to her heart to support has made it the perfect time to take on the challenge. 

“I’m not an experienced runner but, in my mind, if Lennon could find the strength to beat meningitis, I can dig deep enough to find the strength to finish the 13.1 miles and hopefully raise a lot of money along the way!” Laura said. 

Laura’s being joined on the challenge by her best friend and Lennon’s Godmother Cherelle Armstrong, who’s also raising funds for us.

We’ve supported the family since Lennon’s illness and in turn Laura has supported us, raising £2,500 through a Toddle Waddle last year.

Great source of support

“Meningitis Now has been a great source of support,” Laura added. “I really struggled with the emotional trauma of what I had seen my baby endure and benefited greatly from a home visit from Chris Mather as well as the information on the website."

“The day I had a visit was the first time I truly felt able to make sense of what we had been through when our son was so ill. I felt supported and that things would get better with time – and they have."

“It was so helpful to have someone to talk to who could make sense of what I was feeling and what we had been through.” 

Peer support

Laura also shared Lennon’s story on our website, leading to a meeting with another mum whose son had the same type of meningitis at the same age as Lennon did. She made contact with Laura. 

“It was hugely beneficial to us both to offload about our experiences to someone who could truly relate,” Laura said. “It was a huge part of the healing experience and without Meningitis Now this wouldn’t have happened.”

The Great North Run is one of the biggest half marathons in the world with over 57,000 people taking on the 13.1 mile course from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields. It takes place on Sunday 13 September.

Sign up here

We have places available for anyone who would like to join #TeamTangerine alongside Laura. Registration is £25 with a fundraising pledge of £300. You can sign up through our Great North Run page.

To support Laura’s efforts visit her fundraising page.

Kirsty Owen-Hayward, our Events Manager, said, “Good luck to Laura as she takes on this challenge. Everyone at Meningitis Now is so grateful to her for her wonderful support, which will make such a difference to those fighting back from the devastation of meningitis.” 

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