The sport’s regional chairman Clive Hatch selected us in recognition of the struggles our Community Ambassador and Believe & Achieve Business Mentor Jonathan Davies has been through as he fights back from viral meningitis.
Jonathan is also a committee member of Triathlon England East Region, which covers the counties of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, and includes 70 clubs with 2,700 members, and is a keen triathlete and advocate for the sport.
Viral meningitis struck
Jonathan, 55, from Braintree in Essex, was leading a full and active life and training for an open water sea triathlon in 2002, when viral meningitis struck.
“I remember thinking I’ll give it a couple of days and I’ll be back to normal,” Jonathan said.
But it wasn’t that straightforward. The attack was nearly fatal and left Jonathan barely able to walk, talk or recognise his children. In the days after he was diagnosed, our website was a source of tremendous help and advice for him and his family at what was a very scary time.
“When I left hospital I was a changed man,” Jonathan said. “I could barely walk and struggled to string a sentence together. I was bedridden for six weeks, off work for just under six months and kissed goodbye to being a triathlete for around five years."
Love of triathlons and supporting our work
But it takes more than that to stop Jonathan taking part in his triathlon challenges, and he has fought back to combine his love of the sport with supporting our work.
“Being fit because I was training for a triathlon was what saved my life when I had near fatal viral meningitis in 2002."
“That’s why I’m both a keen supporter of Meningitis Now as well as an advocate for the sport of triathlon, and I’m delighted that we can support the charity through our activities this year.”
And now, you have the opportunity to join him…
The main event Triathlon England East Region will be hosting this year as part of its support for us is the East Regional Relays, which take place near Chelmsford in Essex on Sunday 26 May.
This will take the format of the exciting mixed relays that many of you will have enjoyed watching at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The same format will be used for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Of course, you don’t need to be an elite athlete to take part in the East Regional Relays (the word is that 99% of those taking part won’t be) and teams of any or little experience and ability are more than welcome to join in. It just needs four of you willing to give it a go.
As many as possible racing
Each of the four triathletes within a team of two men and two women will in turn complete a super-sprint comprising a 200 metre open water swim, an 8km closed road bike ride and a 2km run, before tagging off to their teammate.
“The idea of the event is to get as many people as possible racing, as this format is very novice friendly – we’re hoping for about 200 teams – and it would be great if we had teams of Meningitis Now supporters visible in their orange tops”, Jonathan added.
“It will be very easy for people who have never done a triathlon before to take part and maybe they’ll even get the triathlon bug.”
Spectators and supporters welcome
Spectators and supporters are also welcome to go along to the event, which takes place at Trifarm Boreham, Church Road, Boreham, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 3EJ. There will be a nominal charge for parking to be donated to us, trade stands (who will be asked for donations) and a Meningitis Now awareness stand.
“It’s a great opportunity to raise some awareness and some funding too – and enjoy a great day out,” Jonathan added.
Lucie Riches, our Community Support Officer in the East, said, “We’re so delighted that Clive and Triathlon England East have chosen us to be their Charity of the Year and look forward to working with them to reach even more people with our awareness and support messages – thank you.”
Triathlon England East Region will also use their HIS Aquathlon at Ipswich High School to support us. There will be a minimum of £1.00 as a donation, as well as the opportunity to have an awareness stall. This is a swim/run event for youngsters from the age of 7 upwards and parents and grandparents are welcome. Further details to follow.