Ian Watkinson

We immediately decided that we would work with Meningitis Now to raise money and, particularly, to raise awareness of the symptoms of this dreadful disease

Ian Watkinson

Community ambassador

I first came into contact with Meningitis Now following the death of my beautiful baby grandson Charlie in 2010. The staff at Alder Hey hospital recommended we contact the charity and my family were immediately embraced by Chris Hughes and the team. They were wonderful.

When Charlie was taken ill, no-one recognised the symptoms.  By the time he was seen by the local hospital, the damage was done. He was taken to the specialist unit at Alder Hey, but it was too late. He died in his parents’ arms a few days later.

No family should have to go through this. We immediately decided that we would work with Meningitis Now to raise money and, particularly, to raise awareness of the symptoms of this dreadful disease. 

My daughter Katy wrote a blog recounting the journey from Charlie's first signs of distress to the end of his short life; it attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Her husband Chris initiated a Twitter campaign asking celebrities to re-tweet a simple message about awareness; many did so and millions of their followers got the message.

We have organised lots of fund-raisers including cricket matches, concerts, ladies’ evenings, auctions and, of course, a Toddle Waddle.

But, more than anything, we have spoken about the symptoms to anyone who will listen. We have given out thousands of symptoms cards through schools, nurseries and health centres as well as pubs and a music festival. Katy has been interviewed by national and local media, as well as featuring in an awareness video.  We have generated many pages of local news coverage.

We are all huge supporters of Meningitis Now and the wonderful work it does. We shall continue do everything we can to help.

I am immensely proud to have been appointed as a Community Ambassador. It is recognition of all my family’s hard work and gives me the opportunity to take that work further, to share our experience with others and to give something back to this wonderful organisation.

  • 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 Chandler-Clare

    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