Meningitis battler launches charity drive at Norwich pub

A Norwich woman who has overcome meningitis three times in the last five years has inspired a charity night at her local pub to fund research into the disease.

Emma Hilling, from Lindley Street, was first diagnosed with the debilitating illness in 2006.

But after successfully fighting off the viral strain of the disease three times, she has asked Dawn Hopkins, landlady of The Rose on Queens Road, to help organise a charity night for the Meningitis Trust.

Although details are still being planned, the event on March 10 will include live music, sponsored body-waxing and a raffle.

Despite her health setbacks 24-year-old Emma, who works at the John Lewis store on All Saints Green, is also training to run her first London Marathon in April for the same charity.

As well as raising money, she said it was just as important to raise awareness of the disease which, in its bacterial form, can be lethal.

'I had viral meningitis rather than bacterial,' she said. 'To get it three times is fairly unheard of, but each time it leaves me with chronic fatigue and takes a couple of months to get over.

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'Each time I got it, I ended up in hospital. I am now on life-long medication to stop it.

'Bacterial meningitis is one of the biggest killer for infants and it needs to be spotted really quickly.

'So it is really important that people come down to the charity night. There will be someone doing live music at �1 per request – which will be interesting – and we've got a couple of people having various body parts waxed for charity.'

The event will also be supported by Norwich city councillor Victoria MacDonald who launched her own fundraising campaign in December after losing her husband Andrew Barrows to pneumococcal meningitis nine years ago.

Although her campaign is supporting a different charity – Meningitis Research Foundation – she said any money donated to researching and raising awareness of the illness could prove vital to future sufferers.

Mrs MacDonald said: 'The two charities are there for the same cause and anything that raises the profile of the disease might get people to say they will spend five minutes and find out what the symptoms are if they are worried about someone. I didn't think about it at the time, but I wish I had.

'My mother also lost her hearing because of meningitis, so it is a disease that has hit my family twice, and it is more common than people might think.'

Meningitis symptoms differ between babies, youngsters and adults, but can include fever, blotchy skin, a stiff neck or aversion to bright lights.

For more information, visit www.meningitis-trust.org or www.meningitis.org.

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