Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Rachel takes on the Edinburgh Half in Gregor’s memory

Andy Hopkinson | 16th May 2022

A Fife woman is taking on the Edinburgh Half Marathon later this month in memory of her younger brother and to fight back against meningitis, the disease that took his life

Rachel takes on the Edinburgh Half for Meningitis Now

Rachel Smith, 24, will be running for us and has already raised £700 towards our lifesaving and life-changing work, surpassing her goal of £500.

It was in February 2013 that Rachel’s little brother Gregor, aged 13, unexpectedly fell ill. 

Rachel said: “Gregor was a typical, fun loving and healthy 13-year-old boy until meningococcal septicaemia took his life within 20 hours.” 

On the Saturday morning Gregor had been playing football with his local team Kirkcaldy United. In the afternoon he played football with his friends and organised one to sleepover. 

High temperature and sore legs

On the early hours of Sunday he awoke with a high temperature and sore legs, which was diagnosed as a virus. Gregor grew weaker, his colour went pale and he was referred to A&E, who diagnosed a viral bug. 

Gregor had to return to the hospital three hours later as a rash started to spread. He died with his parents by his side six hours later.

A tribute page to Gregor on our website says the family “have lost our little joker, who always kept us amused and whose laugh could fill a room.”

Rachel added: “It was such a shock to myself and my family and 9 years later we still think about him and miss him dearly every day. 

Keep Gregor’s memory strong

“Over the past 9 years a total of £26,500 has been raised for Gregor's Forever Fund and I aim to continue to grow this amount.

“These events keep Gregor's memory strong which is extremely important to me and it gives me a lot of motivation.”

The half marathon is part of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival taking place over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 28 and 29 May, covering everything from a Kids’ Kilometre for 3 to 6-year-olds, all the way up to the full 26.2 mile marathon course. It takes in some of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks as well as offering picturesque views along the East Lothian coastline. 

Rachel, a Customer Service Manager for Sainsbury's, who is getting married to fiancé Alan in 2024, already lives a very active lifestyle and enjoys running. “I was initially meant to complete the half marathon in 2020, but due to COVID-19 I had to postpone,” she said. 

Rachel takes on the Edinburgh Half for Meningitis Now

Looking forward to running

“Now I am finally able to do it this year and looking forward to doing it for Meningitis Now, a charity close to my heart.

The keen runner is looking to get around in under 2 hours and 15 mins. “I completed the EMF Half Marathon in 2016 in 2hrs 15m, so I would be extremely happy with any improvement on this time,” she added.

“Since then, I have taken part in a couple of 10k events and enjoy going to my local Park Run for a 5k on a Saturday morning.

Dad great support

“My dad George and I often run together and he is a great support system. He gives me great advice in relation to my training and is always there when I need any reassurance,” Rachel added.

Joanne Wilson, our Events Fundraiser, said: “We’d like to thank Rachel for this fantastic effort and all she does to support our work.

“We rely on the generosity, energy and initiative of our supporters to raise the vital funds we need to carry out our lifesaving and life-changing work.

“Her 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.”