Grandad’s help for meningitis sufferers

Joseph Bulmer

Granddaugher’s illness sparks launch of local support group

A BARNSTAPLE grandfather is setting up a North Devon support group for local families affected by meningitis.

Tony Hayre, whose 16-year-old granddaughter had a lucky escape form the illness as a baby, has volunteered to coordinate the new group for the Meningitis Trust.

He hopes to set up a network of community support to provide help for those living with the impact of meningitis, and to raise finds for the national charity, set up in 1986 after parents in Gloucestershire formed a support group following a serious outbreak of the illness.

“My granddaughter suffered from the bacterial form of meningitis – the most devastating form of the disease – when she was eight weeks old,” he said.

“Fortunately, it was picked up at her weekly clinic. One of the nurses spotted her symptoms and rushed her to hospital and within an hour she was being treated on a drip.

“She was in hospital for a few days and it was an extremely worrying time for us but thankfully, she made a complete recovery with no after effects whatsoever.”

Tony said that since then he had always supported the work of the Meningitis Trust and after retiring in November last year, volunteered to help set up a local support group for the charity.

“I want to do something positive with the time I have,” he said.

“The idea is to make people aware of the Trust and find other volunteers who might be able to help with fund-raising for the charity. Hopefully a support network of local people will develop over time too,” he added.

According to the Trust, more than 500,000 people living in the UK today have had meningitis. Each year, around 2,500 new cases of bacterial meningitis and twice as many cases of viral meningitis are reported.

As well as raising awareness, the Meningitis Trust provides free professional services including counselling; home visits; one-to-one contacts; family days; art therapy for children and young adults; and financial support grants.

To find out more about meningitis, the work of the Meningitis Trust or to give a little bit of your time as a volunteer with the local support group, telephone Tony Hayre on (01271) 371379, email or visit