At just six weeks old, Kiddie Cats pre-school owner Heather Scott nearly lost her life to meningitis.
Now, more than 45 years later, she’s joining our scheme to help keep children in her care safe from the devastating disease.
The resource aims to raise awareness of meningitis among staff, carers and parents, promote vaccine uptake and prepare childcare providers for dealing with a case. Although Kiddie Cats is the first provider in Yorkshire to sign up, it is open to everyone and we hope this will encourage more to join this important scheme.
Heather, who is now in her 40s, said she contracted meningitis when she was a new born in the early 1970s.
“Luckily for me at the time my father was in the forces, and the amazing army doctors picked it up because of my vomiting - I never developed a rash,” she said.
“After a two month hospital stay I was finally released, with doctors stating I had "won the battle but I would never win the war"."
“At the time my parents didn't really understand what they meant, as I still had all my limbs and all my senses. As far as they were concerned I was very lucky and they had their healthy baby back."
“But during my early teens I started developing an autoimmune disease, and by my twenties I had four! This is what we think that doctor meant all those years ago”.
She said that now she runs the preschool, she had become even more aware of how “vastly different” her life could have been had the disease not been picked up so early.
“Just by displaying posters, handing out leaflets, chatting with parents and educating staff on a regular basis, we as a childcare provider can hopefully help a family to be as lucky as mine."
“I think it is a wonderful campaign and so easy to be involved with. I would encourage every early-years settings to get involved and spread the word."
“I am proud to display our MARM certificate.”
Kelly Archer, Information and Projects Co-ordinator at Meningitis Now, said that more than 200 childcare providers nationwide had now registered for MARM. “Babies and young children are the age group at greatest risk of contracting meningitis."
“With so many being in the care of childcare providers when parents are at work, we have developed this resource for the sector, to help them recognise the disease and, where required, take the appropriate action."
“Awareness can, and does, save lives and improve outcomes.”
The Meningitis Aware Recognition Mark (MARM) features a checklist. On completion each provider will be awarded the Mark, which demonstrates that they are providing information and training to staff about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and the action to take if a child is ill.
It also demonstrates they are aware of the importance of vaccination for the prevention of meningitis and having a plan in place to deal with a case or outbreak of meningitis.