Video: Staff get tough as Aylsham High School takes on deadly disease meningitis

Aylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Head teacher Duncan Spalding, left, and teacher Danny Sweatman who organised the event.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Aylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Head teacher Duncan Spalding, left, and teacher Danny Sweatman who organised the event. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
7:30 AM

Teachers showed their brawn rather than their brain-power at a staff arm-wrestling tournament marking the start of Aylsham High School’s Meningitis Awareness Week.

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Aylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Tanya Collins and Martin Pitchers.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYAylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Tanya Collins and Martin Pitchers. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The fun fund-raiser was part of a packed programme of activities to raise both awareness of meningitis and cash for research into the dangerous disease.

Events have been spearheaded by teacher Danny Sweatman, supported by colleagues, whose younger brother Ryan died from meningococcal septicaemia two years ago, aged 19. And in 1991 Mr Sweatman’s youngest brother Joe died from pneumococcal meningitis aged just seven weeks.

Monies raised this week will go to the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Today will see a staff volleyball tournament, with staff and student circuit training tomorrow, and a mega cake sale on Thursday. Students will also be running a pop-up shop in North Walsham Market Place, selling cakes and handing out information leaflets on identifying symptoms.

Aylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Left, Richard Myhill and head teacher Duncan Spalding.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYAylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Left, Richard Myhill and head teacher Duncan Spalding. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

On Friday Mr Sweatman’s mother, Gina Weston, will join Shirley Gieron from the Meningitis Research Foundation, for an assembly where students and staff will hear about how their money will be used. Students can dress in the charity’s purple colours for the day in return for a donation. And events will culminate in a Valentine’s ball in the evening including live music, a DJ, hog roast and chocolate fountain.

Since 2012 Mr Sweatman and his supporters have raised £56,000 for the cause and are hoping this week’s efforts will add a further £7,000.

His mission is to see the meningococcal group B vaccine become available on the NHS after last year’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation decision that it was not cost effective.

“The support of colleagues and students has been absolutely incredible ever since Ryan passed away. Without them I would still be struggling at home,” said Mr Sweatman.

Aylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Tanya Collins and Martin Pitchers.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYAylsham High School staff arm-wrestling competition for Meningitis Awareness fund-raising week. Tanya Collins and Martin Pitchers. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

“There are no words for the amount of pain my family and Ryan’s friends have been through. If we can get this vaccine out and stop other families suffering, it would be phenomenal.”

■ For information on donations, sponsorship or tickets, phone Sue Tartt on 07760 849209, email startt@aylshamhigh.norfolk.sch.uk

■ Is your school doing something amazing? Contact: newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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