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20 Years of Progress

20 Years of Progress

15 May 2009

20 Years of Progress

We have made significant contributions over the last 20 years in tackling meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland.

20 Years of Progress will run from June 2009 to May 2010, featuring a detailed programme of activities throughout the year to mark the anniversary, launch the new Book of Experience and also continue to push for further developments towards a world free from meningitis and septicaemia.

  • Our 20th anniversary reception to launch the online Book of Experience. Join us in London to launch our new interactive Book of Experience documenting patient experience of the diseases over 20 years. The event will be hosted by Dr Hilary Jones, our patron and long-time supporter; other speakers include Norman Pace who has personal experience of the disease, and former chair of our scientific panel, Prof George Griffin. Lunch will also be provided.

Our achievements over the 20 years


  • Meningitis Research Foundation’s research led to the identification of the early warning ‘red flag’ symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, vital indicators of the early stages of meningitis which aid prompt diagnosis and treatment. The Foundation has won numerous awards for promoting the ‘red flag’ symptoms to the public and health professionals.
  • Our research revealed the optimal age to vaccinate a premature baby to ensure the most effective and long-lasting protection against specific strains of meningitis. The research contributed to the introduction of a booster injection for all babies at 12 months.
  • Group B Streptococcal meningitis (GBS) kills approximately 500 babies in the UK a year. A simple dose of antibiotics given to the mother during labour can reduce the risk of a new born baby contracting GBS after birth. Our research resulted in pre-natal guidelines being developed to help health professionals identify high-risk mothers and advise them on antibiotic treatment to reduce the chances of GBS in the newborn baby.
  • Pneumococcal disease kills around 1.6 million people worldwide each year, one million of whom are young children and infants.  Our research project in Boston has resulted in the development of a low-cost vaccine suitable for the developing world where the disease is a major killer.
Find out more about our research programme

  • The Foundation launched the UK’s first public campaign to identify a septicaemic rash – the Tumbler Test. The British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners endorsed materials and the campaign was credited with helping to save 15 lives in its first year alone.
  • Patrons Victoria Beckham and Dr Hilary Jones launched Meningitis Baby Watch in 1999. Meningitis Baby Watch won several awards, and parents credit the card with saving their child's life. It remains one of the most effective awareness materials today.

Awards and Accolades

  • In 2008 Commended by the British Medical Association Medical Book Competition Awards 
  • The 2008 Chartered Institute of Public Relations' Communications Award - Winner PR on a Shoe String Award
  • The 2007, 2000 and 1998 Pharmaceutical Marketing Communiqué Patient Association of the Year
  • The 2007 winners of the Patient and Public Involvement category of the Association of Medical Research Charities' Science Communication Awards
  • In 2007, the charity achieved Approved Provider Standard from the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation for our telephone befriender programme
  • In 2007, the Foundation was awarded the Quality Mark Gold Award for the level of employee participation in Payroll Giving
  • In 2006, the Foundation was awarded the Association of Medical Research Charities' Certificate of Best Practice in Peer Review for research administration procedures
  • The 2004 Community Support Programme award for our Get it Sussed work with students and young adults in the Republic of Ireland
  • MRF member Judy Tomlinson won 2004's Best Fundraiser in the national Marks and Spencer Volunteer Awards
  • Scottish member Olivia Giles won the Institute of Fundraisng Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year, following nomination by the Foundation and Meningitis Trust for her work on the hugely successful fundraising event, Leap for Meningitis
  • In 2004 The Battery Inn won a Charity Oscar from the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action for their support of the Foundation
  • The 2003 AstraZeneca prize for best oral presentation about  the Foundation's UK Meningitis Blood Survey
  • In 2002, the charity's Freefone 24 hour helpline was the first, and remains the only, meningitis helpline to attain the Telephone Helpline Association's Quality Standard
  • In 2003, charity supporter Henry Thompson was awarded a CBE in regognition of his charitable work
  • The 2001 Pharmaceutical Marketing Communiqué Awards' Best Patient/Public Education Project for Meningitis Baby Watch
  • The 2001 Lorber Prize for Foundation-funded research at Imperial College, London about the often fatal uncontrolled blood clotting that occurs in some patients with meningococcal septicaemia
  • The 2000 Pharmaceutical Marketing Communiqué Launch of the Year for Meningitis Baby Watch
  • The 1998 Pharmaceutical Marketing Communiqué Patient Campaign of the Year for Get it Sussed
  • The 1998 PR Week Best Healthcare Campaign

Sheila Peet
Meningococcal disease
Meningococcal disease at 19

It was such a wonderful feeling to know your child was alive.

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