A mum of three from Oxford is taking on a running challenge to fight back against the disease that killed her best friend
Kirsty Brooks lost her friend Tyffany to meningitis in 1997. Now, 23 years after pledging that she would raise money in her memory one day, she will spend February and March running 150 kilometres around the streets of Oxford to raise disease awareness and funds to support our ongoing work.
Along the way she’ll be celebrating Tyffany’s birthday on 9 February.
Kirsty will be accompanied by her children on her runs. Her oldest son Jodi, 14, will be completing some of it but the two youngest, Colm, 3, and Camilla, 20 months, will be with her most of the time in the comfort of a double running pushchair.
“I’m really looking forward to it”, Kirsty said, “although anyone with young children close together knows that just to get them into the car or pushchair is a mission in itself!
“And I haven’t run in ages, so I will be easing myself in with fast walks and light jogs, hopefully working my way up to 5k a time.”
Remember like it was yesterday
Tyffany was only 9 when she became ill and died from meningitis in 1997.
“I remember it like it was yesterday” Kirsty added.
“It was a Thursday evening, 18 December 1997, just one week before Christmas. I was watching The Demon Headmaster when the phone rang. I answered the call and they asked for my mum. I knew by the look on my mum’s face something was terribly wrong.
“My mum then sat me down and told me that Tyffany, my best friend, had passed. Meningitis had taken her away from us. She was only 9! My heart sank and I went numb.
“Every night after that I wrote a letter to her. Instead of Dear Diary, it was Dear Tyffany. I used to always write and say how much I loved and missed her.
We had the best time
“I remember the summer before she died. We went to Hinksey swimming pool and had the best time! We did gymnastics together and roller skating. Our mums and dads were best friends, so we used to spend most weekends at each other’s houses. We used to climb trees, ride our bikes and get shot by the farmers in the Wheatley fields for going on their land! Well, obviously, that was our imagination!
“We used to have the greatest of times. I will never forget them and I will cherish the memories forever.
“A year after Tyffany’s death her parents Donna and Ashley put together a fundraising event. It was a 10 mile walk around Wheatley, which started and ended at the King and Queen pub in Wheatley. They managed to raise over a massive £10,000.
“I remember thinking, I’m going to raise money for you one day Tyff. And here I am, 23 years later!”
Other families impacted
Kirsty will also be thinking about two other families impacted by meningitis in her local community as she runs. Shazia was sadly taken aged 25, leaving her young son, boyfriend, loving mum Lorraine and family behind and then, most recently, Ann-Marie lost her precious son Louie, who was only 20 months old.
“This is a nasty disease and my heart breaks for anyone having to go through it,” Kirsty added. “Please donate if you can. If it’s 50p, £1, £5 or £10 - every little helps.”
Kirsty has already raised £567 and you can support her efforts at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kirsty-brooks6.
Our Fundraising Officer Jo Wilson said: “Tyffany’s sad story shows how quickly meningitis can strike, the devastation it causes and the lifelong impact it can have on those left behind.
“We’d like to thank Kirsty for her efforts to fight back against this deadly disease and wish her well for her challenge.”