A devoted dad whose son was struck by down by meningitis just a month after he was born has embarked on a huge charity challenge spanning 11 countries.
Roy Baker’s son Callum was born in November 2004 but less than a month later the tot was in hospital with meningococcal septicaemia.
At the time, Roy and his family, of Seaburn, had no way of knowing the long-term impact of the disease on Callum, who has just finished his last year at Northern Saints Primary School, in Red House.
Today, Callum, now 11, has learning difficulties which are taken care of but he is physically in good shape having recovered from the potentially fatal disease.
Royal Mail worker Roy, 44, explained: “Our first Christmas with Callum should have been a happy one.
“Instead we were at the hospital in intensive care with him as he was getting a blood transfusion on Christmas day.
“I vowed that when Callum was 11 I would do something to raise funds for Meningitis Research Foundation; if it wasn’t for them and the support they gave us we don’t know how we would have managed.”Roy Baker
“The first two months that he was in hospital we just hoped that he was going to pull through this horrendous illness.
“Thankfully he was strong and after about six months he was ready to come home.”
Now, as a way of thanking the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) its help and support since Callum contracted the illness, Roy is cycling across 11 European countries, Coniston, in Cumbria.
After cycling the length of England his next stop will be Spain, and another nine countries later he expects to return to the UK by the August Bank Holiday.
Last week he cycled the C2C route from Whitehaven to Sunderland and ran the Lakeland 100 - a long distance race in the Lake District which includes 6,300 meters of ascent.
Roy added: “I vowed that when Callum was 11 I would do something to raise funds for Meningitis Research Foundation; if it wasn’t for them and the support they gave us we don’t know how we would have managed.” Chief executive of MRF, Vinny Smith, said: “Roy knows how quickly meningitis and septicaemia can strike, sometimes killing in hours, and leaving some survivors with life-changing after effects.
“The money raised from Roy’s his triple-challenge will help us to raise awareness of the disease and allow us to fund long term research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia.
“We rely on voluntary donations, so every penny raised will make a huge difference to the charity.”
To donate to Roy’s fund-raising go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ROY-BAKER1.