Each year, our fabulous team of Mini First Aid trainers come together for our annual training weekend. This year, we were joined by Jim Lowe who gives up his time voluntarily as an Ambassador for the Meningitis Research Foundation. Jim gave a powerful talk about his family’s experiences as he lost his daughter Rachel, to bacterial meningitis when she was just 15 years old. As we look towards World Meningitis Day on 24 April, we wanted you to hear from Jim about the work he does to raise awareness about meningitis and his advice to parents:
Our trainers all found your session really powerful:
Yes, it was an emotional one and as I’m speaking from first-hand experience, it does make the talks all the more powerful. Our MRF Ambassadors talk about how meningitis can affect families forever. Most of your Mini First Aid trainers are parents so I think it gave them immediate empathy for what happened to our family.
You obviously feel passionately about educating parents about meningitis:
If I can help in some way to make sure that families do not have to go through what we did; then it is worth it.
It can be difficult for parents to recognise the early signs of meningitis. What is your advice?
In the early stages, the symptoms can be so similar to common conditions for little ones (fever or vomiting for example). My advice to parents is always trust your instincts. Seek advice from a medical professional if you feel something ‘isn’t right’. Don’t be embarrassed to push to see a doctor quickly even if your child’s symptoms seem mild at the time. You know your child best.
You mentioned in your talk about the importance of acting quickly:
Absolutely. It is important for parents to know how quickly things can speed up and your child’s symptoms can worsen. We are only talking a matter of hours in many cases. So make sure you know the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. And as we always say: Don’t wait for the rash. In actual fact, Rachel did not develop a rash.
It’s so brave for you to have become an Ambassador.
It took me a long time to be able to take on a role like this. Now that I am an Ambassador, I give talks to various community groups including mother & toddler groups and in a strange kind of way it keeps Rachel alive. Anything we can all do towards the goal of MRF to make the world free from meningitis and septicaemia, has to be worth it.
Thank you so much Jim. I know your advice will be so useful for our parents and carers.
To find out more about the work of the Meningitis Research Foundation, please click here.
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