Families affected by meningitis enjoy Big Stroll

Steve Dayman (founder) and Louise Greer pictured at the start of the Meningitis UK fundraising walk from Portballintrae on Saturday morning. CR23-355PL
Steve Dayman (founder) and Louise Greer pictured at the start of the Meningitis UK fundraising walk from Portballintrae on Saturday morning. CR23-355PL

FAMILIES touched by meningitis – including the Coweys who lost their nine-month-old son Jamie – united for a new fundraising walk along the Causeway Coast.

Around 40 people, many of who lost loved ones to the disease, stepped out for Meningitis UK’s Big Stroll Causeway Coast, from Beach Road, Portballintrae on Saturday, June 2.

The amount raised from the 11-mile walk is still being counted, but is expected to be thousands of pounds.

Among walkers were Emma and Darren Cowey, of Tullyally, who have taken part in many walks since their nine-month-old son Jamie died in 2004.

They walked the Big Stroll under the name Jamie’s Clan.

Jamie succumbed to the killer disease at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Halloween, less than 24 hours after his first symptoms developed.

Since his death, family and friends have rallied round to raise thousands of pounds in his memory.

Darren said: “The stroll is a fantastic way to raise awareness of this deadly disease and its symptoms. We also hope it raises as much as possible for Meningitis UK.

“We want to do all we can to make sure what happened to us never happens to others.”

Emma said: “After our experiences, we realise just how important it is to find a vaccine.”

The walk through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty started at the seafront car park and walk helpers were based at Portballintrae Village Hall.

Highlights included rugged cliff-top paths, glimpses of the Scottish islands across the sea and chance to visit the famous Giant’s Causeway and 15th century Dunseverick Castle.

Meningitis UK founder Steve Dayman said: “We are so grateful to everyone who has got behind this walk.

“Every day we work with people left picking up the pieces after losing a loved one to this deadly disease.”