Remarkable Norfolk family raise �30,000 in memory of tragic teenager struck down by meningitis
Today Ryan Sweatman should have been celebrating his 20th birthday.
Instead his family have gathered to mark 10 months since his death – and a fantastic �30k fundraising effort for meningitis research.
Former Broadland High School pupil Ryan died in his sleep at Sheffield Hallam University on Friday, January 6, after contracting meningitis.
Within weeks of his death his family – mum Gina, dad Paul, brother Danny, and sisters Carly and Holly – had decided they wanted to focus on raising funds for the Meningitis Research Foundation in his memory.
To have reached �30,000 in less than 10 months provides a timely boost for the family, who have issued a heartfelt 'thank you' message to people around Norfolk.
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Ryan's mum, Gina Weston, said: 'If we can save one life through all the media coverage by raising awareness, then the efforts of everyone involved will all have been worthwhile.
'We have now reached our first target of just over �30,000 before Ryan's 20th Birthday. This is all thanks to our family, friends, colleagues, local businesses and the general public.
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'Within a few weeks, we had already had online donations of approximately �10,000.
'Raising funds for The Meningitis Research Foundation to help eradicate this horrible disease and to raise awareness is our focus.'
Meningitis is a condition which has twice tragically affected the family.
Mrs Weston continued: 'In February 1991, we also lost Joe, Holly's twin brother, aged eight weeks to pneumococcal meningitis, so to lose another son to meningitis is absolutely beyond words.
'To say that we are devastated would be an understatement. Ryan was a very special son and brother and his loss has left a huge hole in our lives.
'He loved life, he loved his family and his friends in Norwich and in Sheffield and he loved football and to be taken in such a cruel way is just heartbreaking.
'We will remember Ryan forever.'
Ryan's family have received a huge amount of support from friends in raising the money through a variety of different events.
One of the most high profile was held at the end of June, when over 500 people turned out to support a memorial football match at Carrow Road - particularly poignant because Ryan was a passionate Norwich City supporter and season ticket holder.
Supported by The Darren Huckerby Trust and featuring former Canaries players such as Mr Huckerby and Paul McVeigh, joined by Ryan's family, playing against Ryan's friends from Norwich and Sheffield.
The match raised �5,000, including �1,000 raised by Aylsham High School, where Ryan's older brother Danny is a teacher, with over 200 staff and pupils wearing 'Remember Ryan' t-shirts, and an auction and raffle was held after prizes were donated by local businesses.
Ryan's eldest sister Carly Fryman, principal of Dynamic Dance, held a dance show at Open in Norwich, also in June, and raised a further �3,500.
Other events have included a Three Peaks challenge, marathons, a Tough Mudder event, a Ben Nevis climb, Mount Snowden climb, bike rides, swimming events, cake sales, sponsored events at various work places, a fantasy football league and a naked skydive!
The fundraising shows no sign of letting up however as green and yellow Remember Ryan wristbands continue to be sold.
Mrs Weston added: 'We would like to especially thank Norwich City Football Club, Aylsham High School, Broadland High School, City College Norwich, Aviva, Landamores fish and chip shop in Coltishall and all local businesses for their support, and also family, friends and work colleagues for their continued support.'
- If you would like to comment, donate, arrange a fundraising event or buy one of the wristbands, search for 'RememberRyan' on Facebook or go to www.justgiving.com/remember/3487/ryan-sweatman
- For more information about meningitis and septacaemia, call the Meningitis Research Foundation on 08088 003344 or go to www.meningitis.org
- Are you raising funds in memory of a loved one? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email@example.com