Charity walker steps out for Meningitis Now

Steve Dayman, founder of Meningitis Now (right, holding walking shoes) with local supporter Sylvia Dunlop of Ballymena and the charity's Northern Ireland Community Ambassader Carl Monteith.
Steve Dayman, founder of Meningitis Now (right, holding walking shoes) with local supporter Sylvia Dunlop of Ballymena and the charity's Northern Ireland Community Ambassader Carl Monteith.

A charity campaigner, who has walked over 12,000 miles and raised over £2 million to fight meningitis, is stepping out on his 34th and final long-distance walk in May.

Steve Dayman, 68, the founder of the UK meningitis movement, will walk 201 miles over nine days around the Northern Ireland coast from Londonderry to Rostrevor to raise awareness of the disease and funds for Meningitis Now, the charity he started.

His starting point at the Guildhall in Derry is the same spot where his first walk from Derry to London began in 1992.

In that time Meningitis Now, the charity Steve founded, has been instrumental in the introduction of five vaccines to fight the devastating disease – still the most feared by parents – despite being told when he first started campaigning that he wouldn’t see any in his lifetime.

Steve hopes to raise £25,000 during the walk for Meningitis Now’s ongoing lifesaving and life-changing work – carrying out 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 support to those living with the impact of the disease.

“I’ve been involved with the meningitis movement for over 34 years, since losing my 14-month-old son Spencer in 1982 to meningococcal meningitis,” Steve said.

“There were no organisations to represent the disease then, so I’ve dedicated my life to help create a better understanding of the disease.”

Steve became the founding chairman of the Meningitis Trust, now Meningitis Now, in 1986.

“Families and communities who have experienced meningitis have been the driving force behind our activities. Together we were the first charity to address this awful disease,” he added, “and since then we have funded over £12 million of preventative research, distributed over 20 million awareness symptoms cards, taken over one million helpline calls and supported thousands of families who lives have been devastated by meningitis.

“Spencer’s passing pioneered the greater understanding of meningitis which we have today.”

Charity supporters and families who have been affected by meningitis from across Northern Ireland will be sponsored to join Steve for various stages of his walk and donations will also be collected from the public throughout. Those wishing to can also donate via the Meningitis Now website at www.MeningitisNow.org/steveswalk

Meningitis Now, the only charity to focus on fighting meningitis in the UK, is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to the disease and everyone affected gets the support they need to rebuild their life.

“There is a misconception that meningitis is a thing of the past and this complacency puts lives at risk” Steve added. “The fight against meningitis is far from over, and we would like to hear from other families in Northern Ireland who have experienced meningitis, and could help us continue our journey.

“Every year thousands more lives are impacted by this devastating disease. We will continue to save lives and prevent disability through improving prevention and speedy diagnosis and help to improve the quality of life of those affected by increased recognition of the impact of meningitis and the provision of timely, effective support.”

For more information on meningitis and the work of Meningitis Now visit www.meningitisnow.org

Steve’s route is as follows:

Day 1, Saturday 27 May: Londonderry to Limavady. Day 2, Sunday 28 May: Limavady to Portrush. Day 3, Monday 29 May: Portrush to Ballyvoy. Day 4, Tuesday 30 May: Ballyvoy to Carnlough. Day 5, Wednesday 31 May: Carnlough to Whitehead. Day 6, Thursday 1 June: Whitehead to Newtownards. Day 7, Friday 2 June: Newtownards to Strangford. Day 8, Saturday 3 June: Strangford to Newcastle. Day 9, Sunday 4 June: Newcastle to Rostrevor.