THE dad of a Wearside teenager who died from meningitis says he is honoured to be made an ambassador of the organisation fighting the disease.
Ken Robinson’s son Glenn died aged just 16 after being struck down by the meningococcal septicaemia strain of the brain disease in 1997.
Ken, 67, has since devoted his life to fund-raising for meningitis charities and has now been made an ambassador of the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).
The ambassadors are active members of the charity who all have personal experience of the disease.
They have been asked to take on the new voluntary role to pass on their knowledge and skills and to represent the organisation at local and regional level.
Speaking about the announcement, which comes during Meningitis Awareness Week, Ken said: “I am proud but I’ve got to remember what it is for.
“We remember Glenn in all of this and if he hadn’t died then I wouldn’t be doing what I do.”
There are about 3,600 cases of meningitis in the UK each year and it is estimated somebody dies from the illness each day.
A quarter of survivors are left with life altering after-effects ranging from deafness and brain damage to loss of limbs.
After Glenn’s death Ken made it his personal mission to do as much as he could to generate funds into meningitis research so that doctors can fight the disease.
Scientists are still working on finding a breakthrough in creating a vaccine for the meningococcal B disease, which is responsible for the majority of cases of the disease in the UK.
Through a number of talk-ins, charity sports matches and other events he has been able to raise an astonishing £70,000.
“It’s the community I have got to thank,” said Ken. People everywhere have supported us over the years and it’s brilliant.
“It’s all well and good me organising things but people have to come along too, and they always have done.”
Grandad-of-five Ken, who is also dad to Andrew and Stephen, will be spending this week spreading the word about the dangers of meningitis as part of his new role.
“I’ve been out leafleting and I’m going to Newbottle School to talk to the children about it.
“We want to get it out to many people as possible about the symptoms of meningitis.
“The fight is not over yet, not by a long way.”
In what is an already emotional week for Ken, it marks two years since his beloved wife Brenda died, aged 62.
“She is looking down on me now I’m sure,” added Ken.
•A football talk-in night will take place in aid of the Glenn Robinson Appeal.
Manchester United goalkeeping legend Alex Stepney will speak about his illustrious career, at Burnside WMC, in Fence Houses.
Comedian Mick Monroe is also on the bill on Wednesday, October 10.
Tickets are £10 and include a pie and peas supper.
Call Ken on 584 3097 for more details.
CHRIS Head, chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation hailed Ken Robinson’s dedication to fighting the illness.
“Ken is well known in the town and brings many remarkable qualities to this role and we are delighted he has agreed to represent the work we do in Houghton,” he said.
“We now have 38 Ambassadors in the UK and Wales and they have been set up to meet the specific needs of their local communities; this ranges from speaking to the local media about our latest campaigns to giving talks in nurseries, schools and colleges across the region.
“They can also offer tips and resources for local people who want to get involved in fundraising for us; as well as organising, participating in and assisting with events.”
The first signs that someone has meningitis or septicaemia could be that they have a fever or headache.
If they start vomiting and are generally feeling unwell this could also be a sign.
Rashes anywhere on the body, a stiff neck and dislike of bright lights could indicate the ilnness has been contracted.
Feeling sleepy and finding it difficult to wake up, being confused or dizzy and have seizures or fits are also common symptoms.