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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Appeal by Carlisle parents who lost daughters to meningitis

Two Carlisle parents who each lost a daughter to meningitis have joined forces to raise awareness of the disease, which strikes more often in winter.

Phil Cook, from Brunstock, lost his daughter Caroline when she was just two months old after she was struck down with meningitis in 1982.

Caroline was taken to hospital after becoming unusually drowsy and unresponsive – a key sign of meningitis in babies. She was diagnosed with meningitis B and passed away after four days fighting for her life.

Phil said: “Caroline couldn’t tell us anything. She was very sleepy and we were struggling to wake her. She wouldn’t even wake up for feeds. Then she started rolling her eyes – that’s when we knew something was seriously wrong.”

Phil has spent years helping to raise awareness of meningitis and vital funds for research.

“We don’t want to see this happen to other people,” he added. “By developing vaccines lives can be saved.”

Alison Routledge, from Carlisle, who lost her 25-year-old daughter Emma Stewart in 1999, will also be supporting the awareness drive.

Alison said: “Emma was at home when she began feeling very unwell. She had a stiff neck, sore throat and high temperature. A doctor initially diagnosed gastric flu. A few days later we found her dead in her bed.”

Emma had passed away from meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia – the blood poisoning form of meningitis – but she didn’t have the pin-prick rash that can be a unique, but often late, sign of septicaemia.

Alison added: “People need to look out for the other symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.

“You never think it will happen to you but the disease can affect anyone.”

Other key symptoms of meningitis include a stiff neck, headache and dislike of bright light. Other key symptoms of septicaemia include cold hands and feet and aching limbs.

Phil and Alison will be helping Steve Dayman – Founder of national charity Meningitis UK – host the charity’s awareness trailer at Gretna Gateway Outlet Village tomorrow. They will be handing out information to shoppers and fundraising to support lifesaving vaccine research.

Steve lost his 14-month-old son Spencer to meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in 1982.

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