Meningitis charity swim inspired by mum

12 Jul 2019
Meningitis charity swim inspired by mum

A woman from London and her friends are swimming the English Channel to raise £20,000 for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and other causes close to their hearts. 

Jo Kelley, 54, is swimming the channel in a relay with four friends.  Jo was inspired to raise money for MRF after her mum was diagnosed with meningitis. MRF raises awareness and provides life-changing support to people affected.

Jo’s mum Sheila was diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis, linked with tuberculosis.  In the UK, one in ten people affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness or hearing loss.

Jo is raising funds for MRF to help improve diagnosis of the disease.  Jo will be joined by four friends, Karen, Annie, Tina and Nicola on her fundraising adventure, taking place in late July, exactly when depends on the weather conditions.  Together, they are known as ‘Les Cinq Doris’ and so far, the team have raised nearly £15,000, so to help them reach their target donate via their fundraising page.

"Meningitis has devastated my mum, it was totally unexpected" - Jo Kelley

Sadly, as a result of meningitis, Jo’s mum Sheila Cox will never walk again or be able to care for herself.  Jo said: “Meningitis has devastated my mum.  It was totally unexpected, even to the doctors.  An earlier diagnosis might have reduced the impact of the disease”

“Les Cinq Doris were united through swimming and at one time or another all trained at Crystal Palace. We will each swim for an hour in turn until we reach France. There are many rules to channel swimming and not wearing a wetsuit is top of the list, so my personal challenge has been dealing with the cold water.”

“As our scheduled week approaches our boat skipper will give a 12 hour ‘time to get here’ call for our start which could be in the middle of the night. He will decide when the conditions are as good as possible to give us the best chance of a successful crossing. I am hoping for a beautifully calm day!”

Rob Dawson, Director of Support at MRF said, “We are really grateful to Jo and the whole team for supporting each other on this huge challenge, and making the swim possible. Meningitis and septicaemia can strike quickly, sometimes killing in hours, and leaves some survivors with life-changing after effects. These vital funds raised will help to protect more people from meningitis.” 

Early symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.

MRF are asking people what their priorities of the global plan to defeat meningitis should be, visit to take the short survey to say what you would change or prioritise to ensure meningitis is defeated.

Media contact
Holly Edwards - Communications Manager
Tel: 07875 498 047
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