Dad urges parents to heed meningitis warning

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A dad who almost lost his son when he was six months old is urging parents to heed the warning signs of meningitis.

Jonathan Hopper’s son Benjamin was a baby when he contracted meningococcal b septicaemia, a form of the disease.

Luckily because Benjamin’s mum is a nurse she spotted the warning signs early – these include a skin rash, vomiting, stiff neck and sensitivity to light.

Now his dad wants to make sure other parents do not rely on luck and is helping organise events in playgroups and nurseries to raise awareness of the condition – which kills more UK children under the age of five than any other infectious disease.

Mr Hopper, 34, of Aston Abbotts Road in Weedon, said: “Fortunately my wife, Laura, was a senior nurse at the local hospital and her knowledge of the disease helped us to take action quickly.

“The next week was completely nail biting. We were very lucky as Benjamin has had no lasting effects and I strongly believe that this is credited to my wife’s speedy thinking and the fantastic care we received at our NHS Hospital.”

The dad is now encouraging parents and carers of toddlers – the age group most at risk of the disease – to hold an event to raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation by showing a special DVD.

The film, called Boogie Fit, features Cbeebies’ TV favourite Boogie Pete and the Meningitis Foundation’s mascot Marvin The Friendly Monster.

The DVD has six songs and dance routines, designed to appeal to pre-school children.

The Boogie Fit sessions raise money by asking parents and family friends to sponsor the children to learn the dances.

The sessions also feature information for parents and carers on the warning signs to look out for.

Mr Hopper said: “Boogie Fit is a brilliant way to get children active as well as raise awareness of a disease that kills more UK children under five than any other infectious disease.

“The work that the Meningitis Research Foundation does in researching the disease could prevent other families going through what Laura, Benjamin and I did.”

Genna Vizard, a community fundraiser at the charity, said: “Boogie Fit promotes exercise and movement amongst children under six and encourages creativity and expression to music.

“By buying this DVD you’ll not only be helping your kids to get fit in a fun and interactive way but you’ll be supporting the foundation in our fight against meningitis and septicaemia.”

For more details visit www.meningitis.org/boogiefit