In memory of much-loved Heather

Heather's family and friends present the cheque to the Meningitis Research Foundation outside her shop.
Heather's family and friends present the cheque to the Meningitis Research Foundation outside her shop.

Heather Mathers, a florist from Lurgan, was just 50 years of age when she died suddenly from bacterial meningitis on April 17 this year.

As a tribute to her, and to raise awareness of the disease, 20 of Heather’s family and friends, led by boyfriend Michael Reid, decided to walk the Lisburn

10k to fundraise for Meningitis Research Foundation.

Over the course of two months, the group managed to raise an incredible £9,340 for the charity, as well as completing the race on June 10.

The group presented the cheque to the charity outside Heather’s flower shop on Market Street in Lurgan on July 6.

Sinéad McMurray, Information and Support at the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Heather’s family, friends and her boyfriend Michael for all their fundraising efforts, as well as their determination to raise awareness of the disease.

“It is a fantastic sum of money that will go a long way towards funding our awareness programmes and support services.

“It is important to remember that even though children under five are most at risk of the disease, anyone of any age can be affected by meningitis and it vital that everyone can recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease.

“If you would like to learn more about meningitis or the work of the charity, please go to www.meningitis.com or you can phone the Belfast office on 028 90321283.”

* Meningitis and septicaemia can be hard to recognise at first.

Meningococcal meningitis is a type of bacterial meningitis, which is a rare but potentially life-threatening disease that leads to inflammation of the protective membranes (“meninges”) that surround the brain and spinal cord.

Bacterial meningitis can progress quickly and can be fatal, sometimes within 24 hours. In some cases, it can lead to permanent brain damage, loss of limbs, loss of hearing, and other long-term effects. Symptoms can appear in any order but the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell, just like many mild illnesses.

Limb pain and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash or neck stiffness, photophobia and confusion. Not everyone gets all the symptoms. In some cases of meningitis, a rash may not appear at all.