We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo

11th July 2019

Meningitis Now new recruit Matt Stephenson recently attended one of our Family Days. Matt, who works in our corporate fundraising team, wrote about meeting our supporters, chatting with some of the families – and having his face painted as some sort of whiskered animal

Family Day Bristol Zoo

“We held our latest Meningitis Now family day at Bristol Zoo, inviting 18 families along with their combined 51 children."

"Having only started working for the charity recently, this was also the first event of its kind that I have attended since joining. I was eagerly anticipating the day as I was really looking forward to meeting the families we are supporting."

“I really didn’t know what to expect when I arrived - however I knew it was going to be far more exciting than my usual Sunday routine as I would soon be offered to have my face painted. I would go on to spend the day looking like something that nearly resembled an animal! As people started to arrive, it was interesting to observe the range of after-effects caused by the disease and the impact it has had on their lives. Regardless of the differences in after-effects, the mutual feeling amongst everyone arriving was of excitement and anticipation."

“Despite the bewildered faces of the children (and their parents) as they gazed upon my whiskers for the first time, I immediately felt a sense of community as families recognised members of staff from previous events whilst also reacquainting themselves with parents who they had got to know down the years through attending similar events.  It was brilliant to see a mix of old and, like myself, new arrivals to the Meningitis Now family day. The atmosphere was so open, inclusive and everyone had a chance to meet each other."

“As I started to introduce myself to the families, I instantly felt how at ease and how comfortable the environment had already made them. The parents wanted to share their meningitis experiences with me as the children started to play and to look at the various creatures on display. I felt privileged, as they were so willing to share their personal experiences."

Family Day Bristol Zoo

“As we strolled around the zoo together in the sun, it was amazing to see the smiles and enjoyment despite the circumstances that had brought everyone there. The event succeeded in bringing families together who had all shared similar struggles for a fun day at the zoo whilst also making them feel a part of one big family. A common statement which I kept hearing amongst the group was how it’s been great to meet others who have been through similar situations."

“As the day began to finish and people started to leave, I was taken aback by how appreciative and grateful everyone was for the day. But even more I felt overwhelmed by how they had welcomed me and made me feel part of their lives."

“I left the event feeling immensely proud to be a part of the day and part of Meningitis Now. I’m already looking forward to the next event and again seeing the incredible families I had met, whilst also excited to meet new families and sharing another amazing day with them.” 

To find out more about our Family Days please visit our support events pages.

  • Meningitis after-effects - deaf dancer Chris Fonseca blog

    Dancing to the rhythm

    Seeing Chris Fonseca on BBC1’s The Greatest Dancer was so inspiring. It was great to see the profile of meningitis and deafness being raised

  • Meningitis Now Ambassador Lynette MBE blog

    Lynette awarded MBE

    Congratulations to our Community Ambassador Lynette Adjei, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List

  • Meningitis amputee Young Ambassador Lyndon Longhorne

    Inspired by sport

    As long as you get stronger and better at the task you are performing then you know that you have achieved something in yourself

  • Water bottles donated to Meningitis Now blog

    Gotta lotta bottle

    It’s proving a real bonus and talking point for us having these bottles for our supporters at our events