Jemma Farrow

Jemma could not have any worst luck in her life but she has overcome everything life has thrown at her and still amazes us with her determination and will to succeed


Young ambassador

Jemma was born on 18th March 1990. At 4 months old she was taken ill with pneumococcal meningitis. Jemma was in an induced coma as the swelling on her brain was severe.

Jemma was give only days to survive at this time with a small chance of survival with profound complex disabilities if she was to survive. This was my darkest day. The not knowing and what if she was to survive how would our world change forever. Jemma was having severe fits due to the infection and heart failure.

The medication was extreme [where there was a vein, there was a drain!]. How was my beautiful baby girl going to get through this as I had no ideal about meningitis and its after effects. There were no warning signs as that morning to my local G P and got told she was teething, and was sent home and told to give her Calpol pain relief.

Things did not get any better and within an hour of returning home, Jemma became floppy and unresponsive. I call 999, it felt like forever until they arrived. The paramedic took one look at her and said it was meningitis. Blues lights flashing, every parent’s nightmare. Jemma was taken into the special care baby unit at Princess Margret hospital in Swindon. If it had not been for the quick action of the emergency services and the paramedic knowing that she had meningitis and the profound care that Jemma received for six weeks. We would not be telling this story today.

At 18 months Jemma was diagnosed with profound deafness, she was registered partially sighted with cerebral palsy. She then had to learn to walk over years of physio and defying the odds by doctors after being in a wheelchair for about 6 years.

Also as a family we had to learn B S L sign language as we had to learn a whole new language to communicate in the deaf world. After overcoming all the trauma, as a family we had to change our lifestyle and do something about it. The silent world does not mean you can achieve. We fought for the best education resulting in Jemma attending the Royal Academy for Deaf in Exeter.

As our journey begins.

Jemma loved her time in Exeter and excelled in confidence and academically, even though I was told she would never achieve this. She proved them all wrong.  

At 13 years old Jemma had an accident at school suffering a head injury. This has had impacted on her cochlear implant, which she had at 6 years of age. On having this accident she was rushed to Southampton hospital for a 9 hour operation to remove the cochlear implant and then re-implant a new one. After surgery Jemma contracted an infection from the wound area after her operation. We speedy reaction and doctors acting very quickly it was discovered that Jemma had contracted bacterial meningitis for a second time.

However this left Jemma with more complications including epilepsy.

At 21 years old Jemma left Exeter college with fantastic achievements. As a family we then had to make another life changing decision about Jemma’s future and this resulted in us, as a family having to move from our home in Swindon up to Reading. This decision was taken as there was no funding at all for Jemma in Wiltshire. Our decision to move to Reading was totally justified as the support Jemma now has in Reading is fantastic. All her needs have been totally met and exceeded. She has developed hugely from this and the improvement in her as a person is unbelievable. Her education has continued in Reading and she has so far she has completed level 1 health and beauty course and level 3 preforming arts and drama.

The last part of this story does not end yet as last April Jemma contracted Meningitis for a 3rd time after a bout of tonsillitis. This girl could not have any worst luck in her life but she has overcome everything life has thrown at her and still amazes us with her determination and will to succeed.  

In March 2015 my husband and I arranged a surprise 25th birthday party to celebrate her achievements. My husband and I decided to make it a charity event and involved Meningitis Now as we felt this was the right thing to do, due to what she has been though in her life time. As a family we felt this would give something back and importantly raise more awareness of this life changing illness.

Jemma attended the Stroud head office recently and met with Andrew Harvey. Andrew reported on the I T V telethon program in 1992 and visited me and Jemma at our home in Swindon. This was a big surprise for both as they have not seen each other since that day. Andrew interviewed me and Jemma and classed it as where are they now which was really good.

Jemma and her step father are hosting a black tie charity butterfly ball in Reading Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday 24th October 2015 to raise money for Meningitis Now. There will be two of the top tribute acts in U K at this event. They are a Rod Stewart and Michael Buble tribute acts as well as a 3 course dinner plus disco as well.

Jemma will be helping to run future events including a Valentine Black tie Ball in Bristol on Saturday 13th February 2016 which is part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of this fantastic charity.

  • Fiona Yelland

    Fiona Y

    Young ambassador

    Hi I’m Fiona. I had Meningitis when I was 15, on the 4th of October 2011; it was just a normal school day. However, that was about to change.

  • Kiera W


    Young ambassador

    Hello, my name is Kiera. Many years before I was born, my parents had their first child, Dominic. Dominic contracted meningitis B at a very young age, shortly after he won his battle with cancer.

  • Olivia Geary


    Young ambassador

    Hi I’m Livvy. My meningitis story begins with my nephew Jack, now aged 8. When Jack was two years old, he became extremely pale and weak after he had been unwell at a children’s party a few hours previous.

  • Young Ambassador day

    Matt W

    Young ambassador

    Hi I’m Matt. In August 2012 I became a Young Ambassador for Meningitis Now. The Young Ambassador’s role is to promote Meningitis Now to young people, and this is a huge challenge.