A HEARTBROKEN family who lost their youngest daughter to deadly meningitis have launched a national charity’s Christmas Ribbon Appeal.
Eilidh Neave, from Kinross in Scotland, was just eight when she became ill and died while on a family holiday in France in July 2019.
Now her parents, Ann Marie and Stuart, and sister Zoë, are supporting charity Meningitis Now’s annual ribbon appeal, which offers everyone the chance to remember their loved ones at Christmas and donate to fight back against the devastating disease.
A white ribbon, inscribed with a loved one’s name, is placed on the charity’s Tree of Remembrance at its annual Christmas concert in Gloucester Cathedral on Thursday, December 2. The family also receives a second white ribbon for their tree at home.
The Appeal launched on Monday and runs until Friday, November 26.
The family saw their lives change in a flash when Eilidh became ill. Initially Ann Marie thought her daughter might have heatstroke, but when she didn’t want to walk around the local shop after lunch she began to suspect that it might be more serious.
Eilidh was admitted to the local hospital, but her condition continued to get worse and she was airlifted to a larger regional hospital.
Anne Marie said: “We had to drive the three hours there, and by the time we arrived, she had experienced a cerebral edema, her pupils were blown, and she was on life support. From the time she first complained of being ill to the time she experienced the edema was around 12 hours.
“We were able to spend the rest of the night in the hospital, and she had another CT scan at noon the next day, after which she was declared brain dead.
“Our lives changed in the blink of an eye and will never be the same again. We will forever be without our youngest daughter, which is devastating for all of us.”
Since then, Meningitis Now have supported the family through its home visits and bereavement Facebook support group.
Ann Marie added: “Meningitis Now have made me feel they are looking out for us, even when the rest of the world seems to have moved on. They have been wonderful in checking in on us, providing information and making me aware of various therapy opportunities in our area.
“It is very comforting to know that someone else was looking out for us at a time when it was easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated.”
Tom Nutt, Meningitis Now’s chief executive, said: “We know that Christmas can be a difficult time as many of us remember those who are no longer with us.
“Meningitis doesn’t respect this special time of year either. Twenty-two families every day throughout the festive period will feel its impact, with some lives being changed forever.
“Please support our Christmas Ribbon Appeal and help us to keep fighting this terrible disease and be there for Ann Marie and her family, and other families, who need our support, at Christmas time and throughout the year.”
“All donations go towards the charity’s ongoing lifesaving and life-changing work, funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis, and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.”
To dedicate a ribbon, donate and to buy tickets for the Christmas Concert visit the Meningitis Now at www.MeningitisNow.org
The charity’s helpline is available on 0808 80 10 388 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org