Coltishall family sets up remembrance fund after teenager’s death from meningitis

A Norfolk family has set up a fund to raise money to help find a cure for meningitis after the death of a 19-year-old student.

Teenager Ryan Sweatman died in his sleep from meningococcal septicaemia after returning to university from his home in Coltishall.

His mother Gina Weston, 48, said he had been slightly unwell over the Christmas and New Year holidays with a cold but had none of the symptoms of the disease and felt fine when he left home.

It is the second tragedy to hit the family as Mrs Weston's and Paul Sweatman's son Joe died from meningitis 21 years ago when he was just two months old.

The family has set up a remembrance fund in Ryan's memory to raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation, to prevent meningitis and septicaemia and improve survival rates and outcomes.


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Ryan returned to Sheffield Hallam University, where he was studying sport development and coaching, on January 4.

His mother said: 'He felt fine on the day he went back. The next day, he went to bed with a headache, but it was nothing to worry about. He was due to attend a lecture the next day, but he died in his sleep.

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'The coroner said it was a vicious strain of the illness and there had been no time to save him. There was nothing that could have been done.

'We have been told by doctors that it's incredibly rare to have two people in the same family die from meningitis.'

Ryan was a huge Norwich City fan, a season ticket holder, and attended matches with his family, sitting in the Barclay stand.

Following the funeral on Tuesday, a celebration of Ryan's life was held at the Top of the Terrace overlooking the Carrow Road ground.

Ryan's brother Danny Sweatman, 26, said the whole family planned to organise events to raise money for the fund.

He said: 'I did the great North Run before and I'll do that again. We also want to hold a charity match at Carrow Road, and some of the players are keen to help.

'Carly - Ryan's sister - has also arranged a 'Dynamic Dance Show' at the Open venue in Bank Plain, Norwich on June 23.'

Mrs Weston, who is a personal assistant, added: 'Ryan was a lovely person who loved his family and friends. He was a quiet, decent boy, and just an amazing son.

'He always thought of others before himself and when you needed a hug he was always there to give it to you.

'He had a bond with his brother Danny and sisters Carly and Holly. They all loved each other so much and they will never get over the loss of Ryan. But they will have such precious memories of the most loveable, caring person you could ever wish for in your family.'

In a joint tribute, Danny, Carly and Holly said: 'We are all so proud of everything he has achieved in his short life. We have so many happy memories, which we thank him for. They will keep us smiling when we are feeling down. He really was an angel. An angel who was so handsome, charming and intelligent. We all envied his cool fashion sense, his taste in music, his carefree attitude to life and the way he casually won every game he ever played. We are so lucky to have him as our little brother.'

The family also wished to thank Ryan's friends in Norfolk and Sheffield for their overwhelming support.

Ryan was born in Norwich, attended Sprowston First School followed by Tunstead Primary School, and then Broadland High School. He went to Paston College in North Walsham to take his A-levels.

The family is being helped through the ordeal by The Meniningitis Research Foundation.

Shirley Gieron, Head of the foundation's helpline, said: 'Everyone at MRF was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news about Ryan and are offering our continued support to the family and friends at this incredibly difficult time. We are very grateful to them for raising funds for us and will ensure any money raised in Ryan's memory in his remembrance fund will be used in the battle against meningitis and septicaemia.

'We can provide support to anyone affected by these horrific disease at any time, day or night, via the freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or email at helpline@meningitis.org.'

For more information visit http://www.meningitis.org/book-of-experience/ryan-sweatman-59417 and www.justgiving.com/rememberryan.

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