Dad’s skydive after kids get meningitis

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Barry Kelly from Draperstown braved the skies and successfully completed askydive to raise funds for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

Barry’s wife, Larissa, threw down the gauntlet when she produced a voucher to skydive as part of a Christmas gift so the challenge was on. Larissa and their children watched in amazement as Barry made his descent all in the name of a cause that is particularly close to his heart.

Barry explained: “Meningitis has struck my family four times affecting all three of my kids. We are so thankful that all three have come through what can often be a devastating disease and so I wanted to do something to help others affected and support the great work carried out by MRF. I’m delighted to have raised £875.58 and have been humbled by the level of support and encouragement I’ve received. It was a great experience and I’m so happy I got the opportunity to do it. I just hope it has helped people to be more aware.

“I’m very grateful to all those who kindly sponsored me. Our family would like to take this opportunity to also thank Dr O’Loane and all the medical staff on duty in Magherafelt Children’s Ward who saved Shannah’s life. Sincere thanks to all the medical staff who also treated Shannah in Antrim hospital afterwards.”

MRF Ireland Manager, Monika Marchlewicz said, “On behalf of Meningitis Research Foundation, I’d like to thank Barry, his family and all those who have supported him. This was not an easy challenge but Barry conquered his fears for his children and to help others. As a charity, we rely on the generosity and support of the local community to sustain our vital work. All money raised will help us to continue to fund cutting-edge research into the prevention, detection and treatment of the disease, raise important awareness of the symptoms and support all those who have been affected.” 

Meningitis is the infection and inflammation of the lining of the brain and septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease. Both diseases are very serious and affect around 3200 people in the UK and Ireland each year. They can be easily mistaken for milder illnesses such as flu but can kill within hours. Sadly, 1 in 10 cases are fatal and one third of survivors are left with life-changing after-effects such as multiple amputations, blindness and brain damage. Anyone, at any age can contract the diseases but babies, young children and teenagers are most at risk.

For information on meningitis and septicaemia or the work of MRF visit or 028 9032 1283.