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Bexley grandmother raises £100,000 for chairty after losing granddaughter to meningitis

PUBLISHED: 12:44 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:44 19 March 2018

Maya with her parents, Tony and Louise. Picture: Meningitis Research Foundation

Maya with her parents, Tony and Louise. Picture: Meningitis Research Foundation

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A Bexley grandmother has reached an incredible fundraising milestone of 100,000 in support of Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), after her granddaughter died from the disease.

Maya's grandmother Dawn Whiteman. Picture: Meningitis Research FoundationMaya's grandmother Dawn Whiteman. Picture: Meningitis Research Foundation

One-year-old Maya Ford was taken into Darent Valley Hospital A&E on August 1 2012 with convulsions, a rash, high temperature and fast heart rate, and died the next day.

Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that strike without warning, and rapid diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics are required to provide the best chance of survival.

However, the NHS Trust in charge of Maya admitted failings and have apologised for their inadequate care.

Following her death, Maya’s parents, Louise Whiteman and Tony Ford, from Dartford, and her grandmother Dawn Whiteman, from Crayford, demanded an investigation.

Maya Ford was a year old when she died of meningitis. Picture: Meningitis Research FoundationMaya Ford was a year old when she died of meningitis. Picture: Meningitis Research Foundation

In September 2015, Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust admitted failing to examine Maya adequately and failing to admit her for observation and tests. Since Maya’s death, her grandmother has worked tirelessly to raise funds for MRF, the charity that supported the family after Maya died, and became an Ambassador for MRF.

Dawn said, “Our family were left heartbroken after Maya died.

“She was my world, my life, my everything and she was taken from us in just sixteen hours.

“We need all parents and health professionals to be on high alert to meningitis and septicaemia because there is no time to waste when a child is ill with this disease.

Maya's grandmother Dawn Whiteman. Picture: Meningitis Research FoundationMaya's grandmother Dawn Whiteman. Picture: Meningitis Research Foundation

“If just one life can be saved thanks to our fundraising and awareness raising then it helps us live with our loss.”

It’s not unheard of for Dawn to ‘paint the town purple’ during the annual campaign, Meningitis Awareness Week, with Dawn’s employer, Wellingtons Electrical leading the way, and shopkeepers all the way down Northumberland Heath high street decorating their shopfronts purple (MRF’s main brand colour) and raising funds.

She added: “We’re thrilled to have passed the £100,000 mark.

“It means so much to us to be able to remember Maya in this way.

Dawn’s nephew Paul Whiteman contributed £35,000 of the total with funds raised at a successful banger racing day.

Rob Dawson, head of support at MRF said, “We’re extremely grateful to Dawn and her family, and everyone who has donated in memory of Maya.

“It’s impressive what a supportive community can achieve together.

“These funds help us enormously to continue our research, awareness and support programmes to ensure that other families don’t have to go through what Maya’s has as a result of meningitis and septicaemia.”

A remembrance fund was set up for Maya and can be found here: https://www.meningitis.org/remembrance-funds/maya-ford

Check you know the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia at: www.meningitis.org/symptoms.

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