Stratford Meningitis survivor becomes an ambassador for the disease - The Stratford Observer
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19th Aug, 2022

Stratford Meningitis survivor becomes an ambassador for the disease

A MENINGITIS survivor from Stratford has now become an ambassador for a charity raising awareness of the disease.

Jo Arnold contracted pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia in 2014, aged 43, and is living with the after-effects of the disease – including amputations of fingers and toes.

She has been a dedicated volunteer for Meningitis Now for several years, raising disease and vaccination awareness. But now the 51-year-old has accepted the role of Community Ambassador for the charity.

Jo said: “It’s a cause close to my heart. My family knows only too well the effects meningitis can have.

“It’s a way to work with the local community, schools and universities to provide an informed view of meningitis and the invaluable work of Meningitis Now in funding research and supporting families affected”.

Jo will become one of just 29 Community Ambassadors across the UK for Meningitis Now. She will work alongside the Gloucestershire-based national charity to help fund vital research, raise awareness and support others who have suffered from the disease.

She continued: “I’m delighted to have this opportunity to give even more back to Meningitis Now and make a difference with their work in my local community. With their support no one needs to face meningitis alone.

“I know only too well how cruel this disease can be and I don’t want other local families to go through what mine has. It’s vital that everybody recognises the signs and symptoms and knows what action to take if they suspect meningitis.

“I’m proud and privileged to be involved with this amazing charity and its ongoing work”.

Jo was working as a teaching assistant at a local primary school when she became ill in 2014.

Her condition deteriorated rapidly but luckily her mum spotted the signs of meningitis, called an ambulance and she was admitted to hospital.

Jo was put into an induced coma and spent four months in hospital. It was a very frightening time for her family and her husband Paul was told that she had very little chance of survival.

She added: “When I first came out of hospital I didn’t know anybody who had had meningitis. I felt very alone until I looked at the Meningitis Now website and a lot of the personal stories.

“If it had not been for Meningitis Now I think I would have felt very, very alone.

“I have had to relearn to do absolutely everything and there are still many things that are difficult, such as cutting up my food, peeling potatoes, using hair straighteners, reaching for things on the top shelf of the supermarket without breaking anything and my biggest frustrations – cash machines and car parking machines”.

A year after contracting meningitis Jo attended one of the charity’s Rebuilding Futures Days, which was an opportunity to meet others who had experienced the disease.

She was determined to get family life back to normal for her daughters Katy and Lily. Together they have attended the charity’s Family Days and Believe and Achieve weekends and taken part in its annual Five Valleys Walk. They have also raised money through birthday fundraisers on Facebook.

Jo has also spoken at charity events, sharing her story and spoke eloquently about her experience at the House of Commons launch of Meningitis Now’s Adults Get It Too campaign.

For more information on meningitis or to donate visit

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