Campaign success - and a brand new life for Coltishall family

PUBLISHED: 14:00 29 March 2014

Danny Sweatman running the London Marathon for a meningitis charity. Pictured with his wife Susanna and their new born baby Maxwell.

Danny Sweatman running the London Marathon for a meningitis charity. Pictured with his wife Susanna and their new born baby Maxwell. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Emotions run high when a baby is born, but for proud first-time dad Danny Sweatman the arrival of little Maxwell Walter was especially joyful and poignant.

Mr Sweatman, 28, has lost two brothers to meningitis.

For the past two years he has supported the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), campaigning tirelessly to raise awareness of the disease.

And, as his wife Susanna, 27, went into the early stages of labour, Mr Sweatman received an email saying that a long-held MRF dream had come true – the government is to work towards introducing the meningococcal B (MenB) jab as part of the childhood vaccination programme.

Now the couple, of Church Street, Coltishall, hope that baby Maxwell will be one of the first to benefit from the vaccination.

Mr Sweatman lost his brother Ryan, 19, to meningococcal septicaemia in January 2012. Their baby brother, Joe, had died from pneumococcal meningitis in 1991, aged just seven weeks.

“I was very emotional when the news about the MenB vaccination came through,” said Mr Sweatman, who teaches at Aylsham High School.

“It followed everything we had done in terms of awareness and fundraising since Ryan passed – we had got the outcome we were after.

“This vaccine doesn’t bring Ryan back, and it doesn’t ease the pain – but I also felt real relief knowing that all the suffering my family continues to go through won’t happen to many thousands of other families. Maxwell is adorable – an absolute joy. He brings so much positivity and life again; another reason to carry on. After all my family have been through in the past couple of years, he gives us another focus.”

Following Ryan’s death, Mr and Mrs Sweatman, his parents Paul Sweatman and Gina Weston, sisters Holly Sweatman and Carly Fryman, friends and colleagues began a campaign for MRF and have so far raised more than £70,000.

He is due to run the London Marathon on April 13, with Aylsham High colleague Jayne Hudson, but admitted his training programme had slipped since Maxwell had arrived, weighing 6lbs 13oz, on March 23.

Mr Sweatman said the “phenomenal” support of all those who had helped him raise money and awareness had helped him cope with his grief.

He added: “My wife and Maxwell will be perched on the sofa watching the TV to see if they can see daddy in the marathon. Even if I have to crawl over the finish line, I will do it. I need to give back and show people how thankful I am for all their generosity and support.”

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