New Patron announced during Awareness Week
19 September 2013
Meningitis Research Foundation are delighted to announce that the Shadow Minister for International Development, Sir Tony Cunningham, has joined us as a Patron during Meningitis Awareness Week.
The MP for Workington has already supported the charity with a number of events in Westminster, including petitions to No 10 Downing Street, and is backing the campaign for a life-saving vaccine against the deadly meningococcal group B infection (MenB).
Now he is formalising the relationship by becoming a Patron and plans to share his expertise and influence across the charity’s work. This includes a new health initiative in Africa called Action Meningitis which is fighting misdiagnosis and symptom ignorance in countries where meningitis often goes unrecognised.
Sir Tony Cunningham says meningitis has been close to his heart since childhood when his brother had a suspected case of meningitis: “ I remember very clearly the fear of meningitis in the family. My mum and dad knew this disease killed children and were petrified. Especially my mum.
“Fortunately my brother was OK, but as an MP I often meet children terribly disabled from the disease; multiple amputations, hearing loss and brain damage are not uncommon outcomes for survivors but they are an unnecessary risk when vaccines are available.
“I am delighted that Meningitis Research Foundation has invited me to join as a Patron. I look forward to working with them further on spreading awareness and campaigning for a MenB vaccine here in the UK and helping them develop their international work – especially in Africa which I know well.”
Chief Executive Chris Head adds: “We estimate 1,000 people are dying daily around the world from meningitis and septicaemia. Many more are left seriously disabled in countries ill-equipped to cope.
“Sir Tony Cunningham’s international expertise is going to be invaluable as we develop our global role. We have funded international research projects and supported people affected by the diseases around the world for decades, but now we are putting all our skills and expertise into areas like Malawi where meningitis is often misdiagnosed as malaria and thousands are suffering unnecessarily.”
Sir Tony Cunningham was knighted in 2012. He became MP for Workington in 2001, having served as MEP for Cumbria and Lancashire North from 1994 – 1999 and Mayor of Workington in 1990. A former school teacher, he spent two years teaching in Tanzania and was Chief Executive of the human rights organisation Indict before being elected as an MP.
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