Alice and Bryan Austin

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

Alice and Bryan 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 becoming Community Ambassadors, we hope to make more people aware of meningitis and help in eradicating this terrible disease that can strike anyone at any age.

Get in touch with Alice and Bryan here
  • Holly M

    Holly McNaughton

    Community ambassador

    Hi, I’m Holly. I first became familiar with meningitis when my mum contracted it on 14th April 2012.

  • Anne Cadden

    Anne Cadden

    Community ambassador

    In January 2001, my daughter, Helen, died from meningococcal septicaemia aged 18 while in her first year at university. A friend from Helen’s school, Richard Murphy, also died from meningitis seven weeks later at another university.

  • Lesley Leaver

    Lesley Leaver

    Community ambassador

    I lost my husband, Kevin, to meningococcal septicaemia in January 2000, just five hours after being admitted to hospital. I have been supported by Meningitis Now ever since. 

  • Anne Gaston

    Anne Gaston

    Community ambassador

    My son is now 21, but when he was six months old, he was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis. Thankfully it turned out not to be meningitis, but it made me realise how little I knew about this devastating disease