Almondsbury family honoured to become meningitis ambassadors

Gazette Series: Meningitis Research Foundation ambassadors Sarah, Ella, 16, James, 13, and Peter Bailey of Lower Almondsbury Meningitis Research Foundation ambassadors Sarah, Ella, 16, James, 13, and Peter Bailey of Lower Almondsbury

A FAMILY from Lower Almondsbury have been named regional ambassadors for a meningtis charity after their daughter survived the disease.

Sarah and Peter Bailey, alongside their daughter Ella, 16, and son James, 13, are working to help raise awareness of the deadly virus with Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

The couple wanted to help bring attention to the early warning signs of meningitis, particularly during the winter months, after Ella contracted the disease as a baby.

Allthough she fought the illness, the teenager did have to have toe amputations and is still receiving treatment on her leg bones.

Sarah said finding out their first born had meningitis had changed the family.

“Ella contracted meningococcal septicaemia in November 1998 when she was 13 months old.,” she said. “Our whole world turned upside down in the space of 24 hours. Our baby girl was given a 50/50 chance of survival.”

She added: “After a month in intensive care she pulled through but has had many operations subsequently. These included her toes being amputated, removal of foot skin tissue, and the ongoing correction of her leg bone lengths as well as dental issues.

“Despite all of this, she remains one of the fortunate ones and amazes us all the time, she skis , dances, plays the piano and violin and loves performing in musicals.”

Historically cases of the disease rise at winter and the MRF estimates that meningitis and septicaemia affect approx 10 people in the UK and Ireland every day. Both are deadly diseases that can strike without warning, killing one in 10, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life-altering effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs. Children under five and students are most at risk, but the diseases can strike at any age and not all forms are covered by vaccines.

MRF Ambassadors are active members of the charity who all have personal experience of the diseases. They have been asked to take on this new voluntary role because they have the knowledge and skills to represent the organisation at local and regional level.

Chris Head, chief executive of the charity, said: “The Bailey family bring many qualities to this role and we are delighted they have agreed to represent the work we do in South Gloucestershire.

“We now have 50 ambassadors in the UK and Wales and they take on a variety of roles from speaking to the local media about our latest campaigns to giving talks in nurseries, schools and colleges across the region. They can also offer tips and resources for local people who want to get involved in fundraising for us; as well as organising, participating in and assisting with events.”

The Bailey family said: “We are honoured to have been asked to become regional ambassadors for Meningitis Research Foundation and will make sure our local community know what to look out for especially at this time of year as the diseases are often mistaken for flu as symptoms are so similar.”


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