Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Leanne's inspiration to take on the Manchester Marathon

Andy Hopkinson | 1st April 2022

A mum, inspired by the heart-breaking experience of nearly losing her daughter Ava to bacterial meningitis when she was just two weeks old, aims to complete a challenge she set herself to run a full marathon before reaching the age of 40

Leanne running Manchester Marathon for Meningitis Now

Leanne Bigger told us that as "that age is getting ever closer, I felt this year was the right time to take the plunge". She’ll be taking on the Manchester Marathon for us this Sunday, 3 April. 

Leanne, from Kidderminster, said: “Since I was a young girl I used to run with my mom. My mom always ran half marathons. The last run I did with her was 10 miles, about 12 years ago. I always remember lying on my mom’s kitchen floor after it with my mom rubbing my legs. I’m sure with age on my side that should have been the other way round.

“I went on to run my first half marathon in 2018, inspired by the heart-breaking experience of nearly losing my daughter, Ava, to bacterial meningitis when she was only two weeks old. 

Ran the Worcester Half

“Myself and my three best friends ran the Worcester half marathon, raising over £5,000 for Meningitis Now, who had helped me in different ways during this difficult time when my daughter was poorly.

Leanne added: “Running has been my drug ever since and I went on to run another five half marathons, bringing my fundraising total to over £6,000.

“I always told myself I would run a full marathon by the time I’m 40 – and that age is getting ever closer, so I felt this year was the right time. 

“Given the difficulties everyone has faced over the past two years it’s made me appreciate everything I have. I know I am one of the lucky ones! 

Full training mode

“So now, I’m in full training mode to complete my first full marathon. Ultimately, I want to run the 26.2 miles to make my mom proud.

“Meningitis Now is a charity very close to my heart. As well as Ava, my mom had meningitis when she was 17 years old and my friend’s children Colby and Rosa-Mae have also been affected.

Leanne running Manchester Marathon for Meningitis Now

“I’d like to thank my friend Sam for running with me when we get chance, being there to moan to and supporting me. And being as crazy as me by signing up to run these 26.2 miles too.”

You can support Leanne’s efforts on her fundraising page.

Ava’s story

Leanne knew her newborn baby daughter Ava was not right, but doctor after doctor didn’t listen to her maternal instinct or connect Ava’s high-pitched screams and high temperatures with her mother’s Strep B during pregnancy.

Eventually Ava’s temperature spiked and she was rushed to hospital, where she finally received the treatment she so desperately needed.

Luckily Ava has made a full recovery and seems happy and healthy, as our then and now photos here show.

Leanne running Manchester Marathon for Meningitis Now - Ava

“Thank God I went with my mother’s instinct and also took my mother and mother-in-law’s advice,” Leanne added. “If I’d listened to doctors and ‘stuck with the colic and screaming’ I would not have my daughter here today. 

“When meningitis strikes it can happen so quickly and take a life within hours. I feel the luckiest mom alive that I still have my beautiful daughter. I will be doing everything I can now to raise awareness and to raise money for Meningitis Now.”

You can read Ava’s full story here.

Thanks for the support Leanne, and good luck in the marathon at the weekend!

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