Ballymena supporter joining charity’s walk to fight meningitis

Sylvia Dunlop with charity campaigner Steve Dayman (right), and Meningitis Now NI Community Ambassador Carl Monteith.
Sylvia Dunlop with charity campaigner Steve Dayman (right), and Meningitis Now NI Community Ambassador Carl Monteith.

A Ballymena woman, who lost her daughter to meningitis, is stepping out once again to raise awareness of the disease and funds for charity, Meningitis Now.

She will join the charity’s founder, 68-year-old Steve Dayman, who has walked over 12,000 miles and raised over £2 million to fight meningitis, and who is stepping out on his 34th and final long-distance walk next month.

He will walk 201 miles over nine days around the Northern Ireland coast from Londonderry to Rostrevor to raise awareness of the disease and funds for the charity he established.

Joining him will be local supporter Sylvia Dunlop from Ballymena.

Sylvia, who works in the Adair Arms Hotel, was on Steve’s first walk in Northern Ireland in 1992, just one month after losing her daughter Michelle to meningitis.

The walk will start at the Guildhall in Derry - the same spot where Steve’s first walk from Derry to London began in 1992.

In that time Meningitis Now, the charity Steve founded, has been instrumental in the introduction of five vaccines to fight the devastating disease – still the most feared by parents – despite being told when he first started campaigning that he wouldn’t see any in his lifetime.

Steve hopes to raise £25,000 during the walk for Meningitis Now’s ongoing lifesaving and life-changing work – carrying out research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing support to those living with the impact of the disease.

He said: “I’ve been involved with the meningitis movement for over 34 years, since losing my 14-month-old son Spencer in 1982 to meningococcal meningitis.

“There were no organisations to represent the disease then, so I’ve dedicated my life to help create a better understanding of the disease,” said Steven, who became the founding chairman of the Meningitis Trust, now Meningitis Now, in 1986.

Charity supporters and families who have been affected by meningitis from across Northern Ireland will be sponsored to join Steve for various stages of his walk and donations will also be collected from the public throughout. Those wishing to can also donate via the Meningitis Now website at www.MeningitisNow.org/steveswalk

For those who wish to support the walk along the way, the itinerary will see it start off on its way to Rostrevor from Londonderry on May 27 and will see it arrive locally in Carnlough on May 30, travelling onwards from there to Whitehead on May 31.