Presenter’s family meningitis scares help to warn others

A community radio presenter who has seen three members of his family suffer from meningitis is playing his part in spreading word of the symptoms.

Public relations expert Keith Newman, who has his own show on Radio Northumberland, has become an ambassador for Meningitis Awareness Week.

The national campaign, which runs until Sunday, is supported by the Meningitis Research Foundation and aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of the disease and how to spot the symptoms.

Mr Newman, of Ulgham, saw both his son and daughter contract the illness, as well as his niece.

Thankfully, all recovered, but meningitis and septicaemia are estimated to affect about nine people in the UK and Ireland every day, kill one in 10 and leave a quarter of survivors with life-altering effects, including brain damage, deafness, blindness and loss of limbs.

Mr Newman said: “Our family have had three cases of meningitis to deal with in the past. My daughter Amy, now 23, contracted meningitis in 1994 when she was just three years old, my son James, 15, also developed the disease in 1999 when he was just three months old, and my niece Daisy was also affected when she was small.

“We have been lucky not to lose anyone, but I know from experience others who have and that has made me determined to help others as best I can.”

Symptoms include fever, vomiting, severe headache, a rash, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, tiredness, confusion and seizures. Some may not appear at all.

Children under five and students are most at risk, but the disease can strike at any age.

For information call the Meningitis Research Foundation on 0808 800 3344.