Oli was just seven months old when his parents Abi and Tom faced the agonising decision to turn his life support off.
Now they have kindly shared their story, to support our annual ribbon appeal, which offers everyone the chance to remember their loved ones at Christmas and donate to fight back against this devastating disease.
A white ribbon, inscribed with a loved one’s name, is placed on the Tree of Remembrance which takes pride of place at our annual Christmas concert in Gloucester Cathedral. A second white ribbon is sent to the family to display on their tree at home. Families affected by meningitis but not bereaved are also invited to support the appeal, which launches today, 31 October and runs until 25 November.
Joy, happiness and laughter
Abi told us: “In the seven months that we were so blessed to have Oli in our lives he brought our whole family joy, happiness and laughter.
“The impact of his unexpected death is something that cannot easily be explained. Quite simply it devastated us and changed us all forever.
“We will never understand why he died, though our grief has changed over the years, it has never lessened, and we continue to hope that something positive can come out of the journey that we find ourselves on.
“Meningitis is life changing. It stole Oli’s life – who knows what future he should still be fulfilling.
“For his older brother and sister it took away their childhood innocence. Only time will tell the longer-term impact of them losing their adored baby brother when they were only 4-years-old. For our youngest daughter, she will forever live in a world knowing she had a brother whom she never met.
Darkest of places
“For our family, forced to watch Tom and I in the darkest of places whilst also grieving their own huge loss, it changed everything. For friends, desperate to help, yet powerless to, it forced them to have a new perspective on life.
“Nothing will bring Oli back to us. To the outside world we are ‘strong’. To a stranger looking in our lives we probably look like we have it all. A happy family of five, a dog, a house that feels like a home.
“But we are good at fooling people. We smile, but we want to cry, we talk but we want to be quiet (because no words can adequately explain what’s going on in our minds and hearts), we are so very good at being ‘happy’. But the wrongness of losing a child can never be made right. It can’t be fixed, mended or even cried away.
“No matter what, Oli is always missing. No matter what, our family is always achingly incomplete. We do not choose to be strong. We have no choice.”
Lifesaving and life-changing work
All donations go towards our ongoing lifesaving and life-changing work, funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.
With an average of 22 people and families every day being hit with the devastating news that they’ve contracted meningitis, why not make your donation £22? Whatever the amount, every £1 donated goes towards our vital work fighting meningitis.
Buy tickets for the Gloucester Cathedral Christmas Concert on 2 December
Purchase online or phone 01453 768000.