Family who lost baby to meningitis make new pledge

Linda Williamson, of Presthope Road, Pennywell Sunderland, who with daughter Gemma are organising a charity night in memory of Liam Wilkinson who died of meningitis aged just 6 months.
Linda Williamson, of Presthope Road, Pennywell Sunderland, who with daughter Gemma are organising a charity night in memory of Liam Wilkinson who died of meningitis aged just 6 months.
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THE family of a Wearside baby who died from meningitis 23 years ago are hoping to raise thousands of pounds in his name.

Liam Williamson-Conlon was just six months old when he was struck down with the killer disease in February 1991.

Since then, his family, from Pennywell, have strived to raise awareness of the illness, holding charity walks and other events involving friends.

Now they are hoping to go one better with an evening of fun and entertainment, organised by Liam’s older sister Gemma Williamson.

“We raised funds through a walk in 1993 and had a big response from local businesses and Sunderland football club,” said Liam’s mum Linda, 55.

“Gemma’s done really well so far and we’re very proud of her.”

Gemma, 28, who was just three when Liam died, said: “We just want to raise awareness of what meningitis is. Liam died not long after he got it. It’s an awful illness and we want to do anything we can to help the Meningitis Research Foundation.”

Children under five and students are most at risk of contracting the illness, but it can strike at any age and not all forms are currently covered by vaccines.

Barclays, where Gemma works, has pledged to match the funds raised on the night, which takes place at Bar Infinity, in High Street West, on Saturday, November 1.

“I’ve got some great prizes and the Just Giving page we set up for Liam has already got £100 in,” added Gemma, who is being supported in her efforts by sister Linsey and brother Shaun.

“We’ve done a lot for charity over the years since he died and want to keep that going.”

Christopher Head, chief executive at Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “We are extremely grateful to Gemma and her family for organising their fund-raising evening in memory of baby Liam.

“We rely on voluntary donations to fund our vital work into the prevention, detection and treatment of the diseases and support those affected, so every penny they raise through this event will make a huge difference to the charity.”

Donations for the appeal can be texted by sending LLWC48 and then your amount in pounds to 70070.

Alternatively, go to www.justgiving.com/Gemma-Williamson3.

Tickets are £3. For information, call Gemma on 07814716619.

For information on the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, call the helpline free on 080 8800 3344 or go to www.meningitis.org.