It early 2001 the lives of the two families from Chester took on a cruel and tragic parallel, when both children, who had grown up together, lost their lives to meningococcal disease.
Helen Cadden, 18, and 19-year-old Richard Murphy had attended primary school and senior school together and become firm friends. University took them to different parts of the country when Helen moved to Sheffield Hallam University to study Business Studies and Richard attended University College London to read philosophy.
Helen had been ill for less than 15 hours when she died at university in January 2001. Richard attended her funeral and did a reading, but sadly just seven short weeks later became ill himself and also died from meningitis.
Dedicated and hard-working supporter
Since then Anne has been a dedicated and hard-working supporter. She said: “Meningitis Now was there for us when we needed support, which is why we’ve volunteered over the years, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and campaigning for vaccines so that lives can be saved.”
This latest event on 8 October was a wine and cheese evening, complete with music, entertainment, a raffle and an auction to remember what would have been Richard and Helen’s 40th birthdays. A fish and chip supper had originally been planned around their birthdays at the beginning of 2022, but unfortunately this had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions at the time.
Over 120 family and friends gathered for the evening to share memories of both Helen and Richard.
“We felt the evening was a success in raising funds and awareness for Meningitis Now and also a fitting occasion for family and friends to celebrate and remember the lives of Helen and Richard,” Anne told us.
“We’d like to thank everyone who attended and those who helped in any way to make the evening such a wonderful success, especially the entertainers and the donors of the raffle prizes and auction items.
“The auction was the highlight of the evening so particular mention goes to the auctioneer from Bonhams for his professional service and generating lots of excitement during the bidding process.
“We’re also grateful to Manchester United, the Football Association (England) and the Football Association of Wales for donating signed football shirts, Manchester City for match tickets and Coronation Street for a signed 60th anniversary script.
“Additional thanks go to everyone who donated online, Meningitis Now for their support and especially to Steve Dayman for his continued support over the 21 years since Helen and Richard died.”
Grateful for support
The families have no further plans for another large-scale event but they will be carrying on with their fundraising coffee mornings and local awareness events.
Our Fundraising Officer Kat Hollywell said: “We’re so grateful to Anne and Cathy and everyone who went along on the evening for all their fantastic fundraising and awareness-raising efforts.
“It is so wonderful that Helen and Richard’s legacy lives on and the continued support of their families and friends allows us to carry on the fight against meningitis through our research, awareness and support programmes as we look to beat meningitis in the UK within a generation.”