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Photo gallery: Aylsham High School smashes £8,000 barrier in week of fund-raising for Meningitis Research Foundation

12:01 18 February 2014

Aylsham High School students selling cakes from their pop-up-shop in North Walsham for Meningitis Awareness Week. Left to right, Fenton Roberts, 11, Thomas Curtis, 12, and Mathilda Armiger, 11.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Aylsham High School students selling cakes from their pop-up-shop in North Walsham for Meningitis Awareness Week. Left to right, Fenton Roberts, 11, Thomas Curtis, 12, and Mathilda Armiger, 11. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Students and staff at Aylsham High School have raised a staggering £8,000-plus for research into meningitis during a week of fund-raising events.

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The total has stunned and delighted teacher Danny Sweatman, who has lost two brothers to the deadly disease.

His dream is to see the meningitis B vaccine offered free as part of the NHS’s normal childhood vaccination programme.

And he hopes that his own first-born child, due in four weeks time, will be among the first babies to be given the jab.

Mr Sweatman, strongly supported by colleagues and pupils, helped organise events including a Tesco bag-packing session, arm-wrestling, volleyball, a “Crazy Combo Challenge” of circuit training feats, pop-up shop, cake sales, non-uniform day, photo booths and awareness-raising events.

All monies will go to the Meningitis Research Foundation’s campaign to see the vaccination routinely available on the NHS, and towards continuing research into the disease.

The week ended with a grand Valentine’s Day ball in the school hall which by itself raised about £5,000, including £3,000 from an auction which saw a top price of £460 paid for a weekend away for six in Sea Palling.

During the ball, which attracted 160 revellers, Mr Sweatman’s father Paul Sweatman got up on stage to thank Aylsham High for its “magnificent” effort.

He praised the school ethos and said his son had been lifted every day by the support of colleagues and students.

And Meningitis Research Foundation representative Shirley Gieron also announced that she hoped Danny Sweatman and his mother, Gina Weston, would become meningitis ambassadors, spreading awareness of the disease and the charity’s work throughout Norfolk.

Danny’s younger brother Ryan died, aged 19, from meningococcal septicaemia in 2012. And in 1991 his brother Joe died from pneumococcal meningitis aged just seven weeks.

“It has been absolutely exceptional,” said Danny Sweatman. “The support from colleagues and students has been immense.”

He added that he had “everything crossed” for March 26 when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation - which announced last July that the vaccine was not cost effective - is due to make public its decision after a rethink.

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