In a move that is unprecedented, CEO Dr Tom Nutt, said, “The charity wanted to find a way to recognise the contribution that Harmonie and her family - mum and dad Freya and Ross, and aunties Jessica and Hannah - have made to fighting meningitis in the UK and in their efforts to raise much needed funds for a range of charities, and this seems both fitting and appropriate.”
Harmonie-Rose first came to the attention of the charity in September 2014, when we received a call confirming that a 10-month-old baby had been rushed to Royal United Hospital in Bath with suspected meningitis. A diagnosis was quickly confirmed and was one that ultimately led to Harmonie losing her arms and legs to the disease.
Meningitis Now founder Steve Dayman rushed to visit Harmonie in the hospital, offering help and support to the family as they dealt with what is every parent’s worst nightmare. “The resilience of the family shone through even at this early stage of their experience,” says Steve. “And within what seems like no time at all, the family was helping the charity in one of its biggest battles - the fight to secure the introduction of a vaccine for MenB , the strain that, ironically, almost took Harmonie's life,” he continued.
Helping to secure this life-saving vaccine marked the start of a journey that would see Harmonie ‘bum shuffle’ across Westminster Hall to help the charity’s call to extend the MenB vaccine to at-risk children up to the age of five, following the sad death of Faye Burdett, who was just too old to receive the vaccine. Since then Harmonie has featured extensively across the charity’s campaign and awareness activities, including a starring role in the charity’s video to support World Meningitis Day 2018, where she helped viewers to learn the signs and symptoms of the disease before she declared that she needed a little lie-down! Harmonie's appearance was viewed over 88,000 times, the largest ever response to a meningitis video.
An ever-present personality in the battle to beat meningitis, Harmonie has made many appearances on regional and national TV. In doing so, she has become an unofficial ambassador of the disease here in the UK, up until now when she becomes Meningitis Now’s first and only Junior Ambassador.
Of all of her on-screen appearances, Harmonie will best known for simply doing the things that other children do without thinking. Things such as skipping, jumping, running, drawing and writing, all done with the added problem of not having arms and legs, but always with a big smile.
In recent Covid-19 times, Harmonie's unique ability was thrust centre stage when she agreed to help Meningitis Now with its 2.6 Challenge – a national appeal to help charities across the UK deal with the financial impact of lockdown.
Themed by mum Freya to reflect the six things she thought Harmonie would never be able to do even once, Harmonie set about proving Mum wrong and completed, amongst other challenges, 26 cartwheels, jumped 26 times, and gave us all Covid advice by writing ‘Stay safe’ 26 times. Each of the 6 challenges marks a year of Harmonie’s young and inspirational life.
TV personality and presenter of Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan, heard of Harmonie’s exploits and invited her to appear once again on the show, where she wooed both Piers - who made a personal donation to Harmonie’s fund live on air - and the great British public, who donated a total of £74,333 to Harmonie’s 2.6 Challenge efforts.
“There are many other things that Harmonie, Freya, Ross, and Hannah have done for a range of charities,” says Dr Nutt, “and always with a willingness and sense of fun that belies the incredible challenges that they face. It is always humbling to be part of their efforts to help protect others from meningitis, and in many ways making Harmonie our first Junior Ambassador is the least we can do.
“Steve Dayman talks about the family's resilience shining through when he first met them in 2014 – little did he or the family know how truly inspirational this little girl, who first featured bandaged up in a MenB campaign, would turn out to be“, concludes Tom.
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