Caroline Gardner x Meningitis Now

Back in August we launched a competition for budding artists and young designers aged up to 16 to design a birthday card in celebration of our 25th birthday. The winner would have their design printed and sold across the country, with all profits going to Meningitis Now, a fantastic cause close to our hearts that we support every year with our charity Christmas cards.

We had lots of fantastic entries from children up and down the country of all different ages and we’re now excited to announce the winner…

The winning design is by Felicity aged 8. We absolutely love this design and the fun use of colour. Having lost her own brother, Oli, to meningitis when he was just seven months old, Felicity’s card stood out for its personal meaning making her card even more poignant.

To celebrate the launch of this card and 25 years of Caroline Gardner Publishing we held a party at our Marylebone store. Felicity was a VIP and brought her family and friends along to view her printed design for the first time! It was a great success and a wonderful celebration to launch Felicity’s card in memory of her brother Oli.

Felicity’s family have kindly shared their story of loss to help raise awareness for the disease and the fundraising that still needs to be done to fund vital research.

Oli became unwell the evening of Thursday 22nd May 2014. A couple of hours after going to bed he woke up crying, unhappy and hot but the following day seemed brighter in himself and initially had no temperature. However, he was sick after his mid morning feed, he refused lunch and had a longer than normal afternoon nap. That evening he went to bed early but as had happened the night before he again woke up screaming a couple of hours later. Again he had a high temperature and again he vomited so his parents decided to take him to A&E.

At A&E it was noted that he had a high temperature and a fast heart rate. He was monitored for a few hours and then discharged with paracetamol. They were told that he had a virus and to ensure they kept his temperature down and ensure he continued to have fluids, but returned home. By 6pm the next evening he was back in A&E.

Oli was seen immediately and rushed into Resus, where it became evident that he was very seriously ill and Doctors soon confirmed that they believed Oli was suffering from meningitis, and that they had started him on the treatment for this disease. The consultant paediatrician was called in from home and due the severity of Oli’s illness that Epsom would be calling the paediatric intensive care retrieval team, and that it was likely that Oli would need to be transferred to another hospital with a paediatric intensive care unit. Mum Abi remembers leaning over him, stroking his head and whispering to him that she loved him. He opened his eyes and met her gaze, but this would be the last time that she ever saw them.

Oli was ventilated and later that evening transferred to the Evelina Children’s hospital. He spent the next day being monitored and assessed and though the team there were initially hopeful about his prognosis, that lunchtime he began to deteriorate. The family’s worst fears were confirmed and they were told that he was suffering from severe hypoxic brain injury. Several staff worked on Oli for about an hour and the consultant came to see him. He quietly undertook some tests to test Oli’s brainstem response, and then informed Oli’s parents that Oli was showing absolutely no sign of any brain activity and that it was now only the ventilator that was keeping him alive. When it became clear to his parents that there was nothing that could be done to bring Oli back they made the agonising decision to remove his life support. Returning home different people, together with their then 4 year old twins, the family started what will be a never ending journey of learning to live with the grief.

Abi said, “to lose your child is something that no parent should have to suffer. To lose your child to a disease that is preventable and treatable only further compounds this grief and this is why we believe the work of Meningitis Now is so important. As we know only too well, despite all of the amazing work that they’ve done to date, funding vital research and supporting the development and introduction of life saving vaccines, meningitis has not yet been beaten and the disease still strikes thousands of lives every year. Oli is the perfect example to show how much work and research still needs to be done. Despite him being fully vaccinated against 13 strains of pneumococcal meningitis he developed one of the strains that there are currently no vaccines for. No one can bring Oli back but we can raise awareness and funds to aid the work of Meningitis Now, to help ensure that other families don’t have to live as we now do.”

We would like to thank Felicity’s family for sharing this personal story with us and hope you will join us in supporting our charity partner Meningitis Now by buying this card and visiting their website to see how else you can get involved as well as learning to recognise the signs and symptoms of Meningitis.  

Meningitis can affect anyone at anytime. Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together and can affect anyone at any age. Both can kill within hours and can leave those who survive with life-changing after-effects.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Many different things can cause meningitis, but the two most common organisms are viruses and bacteria. Early signs and symptoms can appear similar to ‘flu’ or a stomach bug.

Early symptoms can include: fever, headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet, pale, blotchy skin and spots/rash. Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly. Keep checking them.

If you have identified signs and symptoms seek medical help immediately. Describe the symptoms as accurately as possible. Say that you think it could be meningitis or septicaemia. If you have had advice and are still worried, get medical help again.

Meningitis offer free support throughout the UK including a help line, financial support, support events, counselling and peer support. They also raise awareness and provide free resources to inform and educate people all about Meningitis. They also carry out vital research and since 1980 have funded more than £12million of research.

More images from a successful evening celebrating Felicity's design with ambassadors from Meningitis Now, Caroline and of course Frank the sausage dog!

We absolutely adore Felicitiy’s design and hope you get behind such a great cause by purchasing and then sending the card to someone to brighten their birthday.

To read more about meningitis and how you can get involved in raising money check out the Meningitis Now website here.

At Caroline Gardner we are proud to support Meningtis Now and as a company have raised in excess of £180,000. We continue our support through our annual Christmas card Packs where 25p per pack goes directly to Meningitis now as well as 50p from our printed Waitrose shoppers. Look out for two new designs in the new year.

Many congratulations to Felicity for her superb creativity on her design. To buy her winning card click here.