Jessie's 10k challenge

31st March 2019

A young woman twice struck by the devastation of meningitis is taking on a 10k running challenge as part of her fight back from the disease

Jessie takes on London 10,000 blog

Jessie Calway, 23, from Chepstow but now living in East London, was a dance student at Surrey University when she was first struck down by meningitis in 2015. She then became ill again the following year. 

Now Jessie is taking on the London 10,000 to prove to herself that she’s recovering well and that the disease is not ruling her life. 

She’ll be running the iconic course on Monday 27 May with her mum Helen and best friend Amy, 22, despite still experiencing the after-effects of the disease. Jessie will also be raising awareness and funds for us.

First experience more severe

“My first experience of meningitis was much more severe than the second,” Jessie said. 

“I saw a number of GPs prior to my admission to hospital who thought I had some kind of mild infection or sinusitis, so sent me home. My dad, knowing something wasn't right, came up and collected me from my university halls to take me home to Chepstow."

“By the time he arrived I had got progressively worse. I was very confused, wobbly, had vertigo and was vomiting. We drove home, which felt like a lifetime due to my agitation, and from that point until I awoke in A&E I can remember very little. I've been told that my temperature soared and an ambulance was called out to rush me to hospital.” 

On arrival at hospital Jessie was given antibiotics as a precaution and taken to acute A&E as bacterial meningitis was suspected. 

Lost weight and very weak

“I had lost a lot of weight and was very weak. The doctors told me I would make a full recovery after a couple of months but to take it easy to begin with. I rested for a month before returning to university to complete my exams."

“Thinking I was fully better I jumped straight back into my busy and active lifestyle, which now looking back was probably a bad idea.” 

In July 2016 Jessie suddenly fell unwell again with a bad headache. At the time she thought it could be sinusitis and saw her GP a couple of times. 

“I would never have guessed I could get meningitis again,” Jessie added. “It’s going to be hard to come to terms with not being able to dance as much as I used to, but I am still young and can build up my strength for the future.”

Disease can strike anyone

Meningitis Now events officer Kirsty Owen-Hayward said, “Jessie’s story shows that this disease can strike anyone – even those who consider themselves to be fit and healthy. We’re pleased to see her doing so well now and hope she enjoys the event."

“Jessie’s efforts will make a real difference to those who are at risk from meningitis and those whose lives have already been changed forever because of it.” 

The London 10,000 takes place on Monday 27 May, starting at St James’s Park and finishing opposite Buckingham Palace. To support Jessie’s efforts visit her sponsorship page at

Meningitis Now still has places available for those who would like to take part in the event – visit our London 10,000 page for further information and to register. Those joining Team Tangerine will be supported with a package including a technical running top, training and dietary tips and support with fundraising ideas and materials.

  • Meningitis Now Toubkal Trek event blog

    A taster of Toubkal

    The 360 degree view from the summit is like no other; it's well-earned and worth every step

  • Model train to raise money after meningitis experience blog

    A model fundraiser

    Mike said that “by all rights” he should not be here to tell the story, let alone build a model railway

  • John Fensom twelve marathon challenge for Meningitis Now blog

    One year, twelve marathons

    I’m grateful that my twelfth and final marathon of the challenge will be at London 2019. It’s a special event for me

  • Meningitis Now Events Training Hub Logo - blue

    The Hub of the action

    If you’ve made it your mission this year to take exercise to a new level, we’re here to help