Meet Hannah Pearce, aged 26, from Llandarcy, near Swansea, who has become our latest Community Ambassador. She will work alongside our regional officers across South Wales to help fund vital research, raise awareness and support others who have suffered from meningitis
The Community Ambassador role recognises the part played by committed supporters in our work. Hannah becomes one of just 40 people around the UK to be invited to become one.
“Becoming a Community Ambassador is a real honour” Hannah said. “I’m delighted to have this opportunity to give something back to Meningitis Now and make a difference with their work in my local community.”
“I know only too well how cruel this disease can be and I don’t want other families to go through what I have. It’s vital that everybody recognises the signs and symptoms and knows what action to take if they suspect meningitis.”
“This role will be a challenge but I’m determined to make a difference.”
In 2014, Hannah was working as a Senior Civil Engineer at a large firm, living away from home during the week, living in ‘digs’ in shared accommodation, working 12 hour days and just returning home on the weekends to mostly sleep.
Not just stress at work
In March 2014, she was suffering from a cold/flu type illness but put it down to stress at work.
“I went to see my doctor and had been given antibiotics but on the night I fell ill, I knew there was something out of the ordinary. My neck was stiff and I decided to take a bath. Whilst in the bath I began to deteriorate rapidly,” Hannah said.
“Later that evening I began to have convulsions. I couldn’t bear to be touched or look at lights. My neck was swollen and I had a significant pumping sensation in my head. The Out of Hours GP recognised the symptoms immediately and I was taken to hospital.”
Hannah spent a week in hospital initially and was discharged despite the fact that she couldn’t walk. She had told the staff that she had no feeling down the right side of her body but her concerns were dismissed.
“A few days later, I was readmitted to hospital by my GP who was horrified when she went to see me at home. I spent a further three weeks in hospital and was finally diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder – which means that my brain wouldn’t tell the right side of my body what to do.”
Community Support Officer visit
Hannah contacted us six months later and we organised for our local Community Support Officer to visit.
“At this point I was feeling completely alone and unsure about the future” Hannah added, “but the help and support from Meningitis Now is indescribable. Not only through the grants and services available but also just having someone there just to talk to. They have given and continue to give me the extra strength I need to continue my journey.”
“It means the world to me in becoming a Community Ambassador because I want to give something back to such an amazing charity.”
Steve Dayman, our founder, said: “We’re thrilled that Hannah will be the face of our charity in her local community, working alongside our regionally-based team members.
“With her continued support, enthusiasm and hard work we’ll be able to achieve so much more in our fight against meningitis.”