Alice and Bryan Austin

On Gillian's last visit to her GP she complained of symptoms of meningitis, which we learnt too late

Alice Austin

Community Ambassador

In 2004, our daughter, Gillian, died from meningitis just days after the birth of her second child Grace, who also passed away. 

Around two weeks earlier Gillian had been diagnosed with sinusitis after visiting her GP, but was advised not to take antibiotics due to her pregnancy. During the next few days she felt increasingly ill and, after several visits to her GP and A&E, was told her flu-like symptoms had evolved into a chest infection.

She finally took antibiotics on the night of 15 March, but her husband was unable to wake her the next morning. On admission to hospital she was diagnosed with meningitis and was transferred to ICU where her daughter Grace was born but survived for just a short while.

After giving birth we hoped Gillian would gain strength, enabling her to fight this dreaded disease. Doctors explained that other than basic antibiotics there was little else to help Gillian. Gillian died on 30 March never having experienced the birth of her daughter. She left a two-and-a-half year old son, Tom, her husband Duncan and a devastated family.

On Gillian's last visit to her GP she complained of a stiff neck, cold hands and feet and painful joints – all symptoms of meningitis, which we learnt too late.

By being a Community Ambassador, I hope to make more people aware of meningitis and help in eradicating this terrible disease that can strike anyone at any age.