Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

New Meningitis Now Community Ambassador Graeme

Andy Hopkinson | 10th September 2019

Meet Graeme Burridge, who has become our latest volunteer Community Ambassador

Meningitis Now Community Ambassador Graeme Burridge

Graeme, from Twickenham in South West London, has taken on the prestigious voluntary role with us following his own family’s tragedy with the disease.

Graeme and his wife Gail lost their 23-year-old daughter Katherine in October 2016. After being a dedicated volunteer and fundraiser for us since, raising disease and vaccination awareness, we’re delighted he’s now accepted the role of Community Ambassador.

“It’s a cause close to my heart,” Graeme said. “My family knows only too well the effects meningitis can have."

Provide an informed view

“It’s a way to work with the local community, schools and universities to provide an informed view of meningitis and the invaluable work of Meningitis Now in funding research and supporting families affected.”

Graeme will become one of just 29 Community Ambassadors across the UK for us, working alongside our staff teams to help fund vital research, raise awareness and support others who have suffered from the disease.

“I’m delighted to have this opportunity to give even more back to Meningitis Now and make a difference with their work in my local community,” Graeme added. “With their support no one needs to face meningitis alone."

Recognise the signs and symptoms

“I know only too well how cruel this disease can be and I don’t want other local families to go through what mine has. It’s vital that everybody recognises the signs and symptoms and knows what action to take if they suspect meningitis."

“I’m proud and privileged to be involved with this amazing charity and its ongoing work.” 

Graeme’s daughter Katherine, who had trained as a midwife but was working in two local schools as a peripatetic teaching assistant, had come home from work feeling unwell. She was planning to return to university in September 2017 to study for a new career as a junior school teacher.

Within five hours she was on a life support machine in West Middlesex Hospital and she died seven days later of pneumococcal meningo-encephalitis without regaining consciousness. Katherine donated her organs, saving the lives of four people.

“We knew nothing about meningitis,” Graeme said. “As far as we were concerned it was a childhood or adolescent disease.

Awareness talks

“After losing Katherine I was asked to talk to 250 students at the university she attended. It was unbelievable that less than a third of the students had, or knew if they had received the MenACWY vaccination."

“Since then I have given talks to various groups with a similar response to awareness of the disease and vaccinations - that’s why it’s so important to help spread the message.” 

Jean Lawton, our Volunteering Manager, said, “We’re thrilled that Graeme will be the face of our charity in his local community. With his support, enthusiasm and hard work we’ll be able to achieve so much more in our fight against meningitis.”

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