Meet the Meningitis Now Ambassadors
Friday, May 27, 2016
Over the past week we've been talking to the many Chelsea visitors captivated by the Meningitis Now Futures Garden - and especially about the living sculptures so remarkably produced in wood by John Everiss and his team.
We believe this is the first time that sculptures of living people have been displayed at RHS Chelsea Flower Show so here's an introduction to each of them, together with a few insights gained from chatting to them on Press Day.
Jacob Gray, 24, contracted meningococcal septicaemia in 2013. Given less than a 10% chance of survival, he took the hard decision to have both legs amputated a year after falling ill so that he could walk again. He says “The help and support I’ve had from this incredible charity is truly humbling and I know I wouldn’t have achieved all that I have without them “. Jacob now travels the UK raising awareness of the disease. On press day this charming young man told us all about his prosthetics and spoke openly and candidly about his experience with Meningitis
Louise Greer, 19, had meningitis at the age of 2 ½ and is a triple amputee. A student of Equine Studies, her horse acts as her vital physiotherapy keeping pain at bay and exercising her muscles. Louise has received the British Empire Medal (BEM) and is part of the Irish Para-dressage team. She continues to raise awareness of meningitis in schools and colleges.
Lauren Booth, 15, was left with brain damage, hearing loss, cerebral palsy and balance difficulties having had meningitis at 6 weeks old. A tricycle funded by meningitis Now when she was 4, inspired a love of cycling. To celebrate her 10th anniversary of surviving meningitis she cycled 25 miles from her home to the charity’s head office raising thousands of pounds to help families like hers. She has recently set a new British para Cycling record in the Youth Omnium Challenge and hopes to represent the UK at the Tokyo PARA Olympics in 2020. Understandably a little overwhelmed by the attention on press day, Lauren was in here element chatting about bikes and cycling!
Liam Doyle, 5, has had meningitis a number of times – the first at just 7 weeks old – and now suffers multiple complications. His courage inspires his family in their ongoing support of Meningitis Now. His mother, Becky, says “While Liam keeps smiling we must keep fighting. Since we were handed the telephone number for Meningitis Now while in Intensive Care we have continued to be supported by this wonderful charity. Being part of this garden at Chelsea is really significant for us as a family”.
Gareth Rowlands, 16, tragically lost his life to meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in 2003. His parents have been on a determined awareness and fundraising mission ever since, doing things they never imagined they would and raising almost £300,000 by completing some of the world’s toughest challenges.
In the first image below we have from left to right: Louise, Gareth’s Dad, Liam’s Mum, Jacob and Lauren.
Steve Clark and John Everiss both said that it was such a humbling but really enjoyable experience meeting and working with these fantastic and truly inspiring ambassadors.
You can read more about how the sculptures of these inspiring young people were produced HERE.
As this is our last blog post from Chelsea we would like to thank everyone involved in helping make it such a success. Whether you visited or just followed online, we hope you enjoyed the experience - we certainly did!
Have a great Bank Holiday weekend!