Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Hannah's lifelong Great North Run dream after surviving meningitis

Andy Hopkinson | 31st January 2020

Tempted to take on the Great North Run this year? Here Hannah tells us why she’s joining our team for the event. If you’d like to join her in the challenge we still have places available – but get in quick as they’re being snapped up!

Hannah's dream of running Great North Run after meningitis

Hannah was only half an hour away from dying from meningitis as a child. Now she is fulfilling her lifelong dream by taking on this year’s Great North Run – the 40th running of the iconic half marathon. 

Hannah contracted meningitis when she was 5. She was in hospital for a month but now, at the age of 24, is fit and healthy, despite having to live with daily headaches.

She will be raising awareness of meningitis and money for us from the run to help our lifesaving and life-changing work fighting back against the disease.

Diagnosed a migraine

Hannah, who is now a nurse, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, first fell ill with a headache, but doctors initially thought this was due to a viral infection. When she started being sick and had double vision her parents called NHS 111, who diagnosed a migraine and suggested she continue to take painkillers regularly.

As her symptoms worsened Hannah was taken to A&E but, following an examination, her mother was assured that it was not meningitis as she did not have the rash, often associated with the disease but not always present.

In fact, Hannah had contracted pneumococcal meningitis.

Keep an eye on me

“On the Monday I was still no better so my mam called the hospital again,” Hannah said. “They said just to keep an eye on me and if I got any worse, to get in touch. My mam tried to get our GP to call and see me but they were busy.

“That night, my mam heard groaning noises and found me unconscious in bed.

“I was taken back to hospital and having taken a turn for the worse, I was urgently transferred to Newcastle General Hospital, where they carried out a CT scan. This found that I had fluid on the brain.

“My parents were advised at that time that I was only half an hour away from death.”

Wanted to be a nurse

Hannah added, “Since the age of 5, I have always wanted to be a nurse in order to pay back the care I received through one of the worst times of my family’s life.

“I started training in September 2015 and qualified as a paediatric nurse in September 2018. I fulfilled my dream of working as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital for my first job. I am so thankful to be able to do the job that I do!

“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to run the Great North Run and I am so excited to be supporting Meningitis Now, a charity close to my heart.”

Book your place

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.

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

To support Hannah’s efforts visit her fundraising page at

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