Students from Manchester High School for Girls (MSHG) and The Manchester Grammar School (MGS) learned that young people are among the most at-risk of contracting meningitis as two top UK sports personalities visited the schools today, Monday 15th January.Picture by Chris Bull for Manchester Grammar School.
L-R Matt Dawson , former England Rubgy Union player ,Lottie Kielty , 15 , Finn Perls , 12, Kizzy Ward , 13 , Henry Murray , 12 , Ella Hampson ,13 , Livi Baker ,13 and Kate Richardson-Walsh, GB Olympic gold medal hockey captain.
Former England rugby player and BBC sports commentator, Matt Dawson, and GB Olympic gold medal hockey captain, Kate Richardson-Walsh, were in Manchester to raise awareness of the devastating illness as part of pharmaceutical and healthcare company GSK’s ‘Tackle Meningitis’ Campaign.
A recent GSK survey revealed that, in the North West, understanding of the risk of meningitis among teens remains worryingly low; just one in ten parents and young people aged 14-18 are aware that teenagers are among the most at-risk for contracting the disease. The survey also highlighted a lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms of the illness.
Matt and Kate met a group of aspiring hockey and rugby players from both schools to give them tips and advice on how to get on in the world of professional sport.Picture by Chris Bull for Manchester Grammar School. www.chrisbullphotographer.com
Director of sport at MHSG, Sarah Newman, said: “We were delighted to welcome Matt and Kate to talk to our students and staff about this important issue.
Some of our girls already play hockey at a high level and some continue the sport at university with the aim to play professionally. Keeping fit and healthy is, therefore, very important to them. Meeting Matt and Kate was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our players to meet their heroes and talk to them about their aspirations.”
MHSG student, 15-year-old Lottie Kielty from Cheadle Hulme, has recently been selected for England Under-16s Hockey team. “I watched Kate lead the England team to victory at the Rio Olympics; she is such an inspiration to me. It was a real honour to meet her and talk to her about our shared passion for hockey. In the future I hope to be able to play at Kate’s level and achieve great things in the sport.”
MHSG students, Livia Baker from Didsbury and Ella Hampson from Lymm are both playing in the UK Lions Hockey team. At 13, both have a bright future ahead of them in the sport. Livia said: “It was great to be selected to the national team in the autumn, but meeting Matt and Kate today was icing on the cake!
Our year group was vaccinated for meningitis earlier this week and, since Matt and Kate’s talk, I appreciate the need for the vaccination much more now that I am aware of the dangers the disease can pose. I would definitely recommend young people look up meningitis and learn about the symptoms.”
Ella added: “Meeting such big sports stars like Matt and Kate has inspired me to keep training hard. Livia and I have enjoyed a successful season with UK Lions Hockey and we can’t wait to see our team mates and tell them all about today!”
MGS pupil, Finn Perls, 12, of Didsbury, said: “I’m a huge rugby fan so it was an amazing experience to meet Matt. He’s an inspiration to myself and other boys who play rugby, so I’ll never forget not only meeting him, but I’ll also never forget hearing him talk about how to spot the signs of meningitis, which means hopefully I will be able to help someone should they contract it.”
MGS pupil Henry Murray, 12, from Altrincham, who is one of the school’s budding hockey players, added: “It was fantastic to meet Kate. She is a brilliant hockey player and it was great experience to talk to her.”
Mark Walmsley, director of sport at MGS said: “We were honoured to welcome Matt Dawson and Kate Richardson-Walsh to MGS to help raise awareness of meningitis and the risks the diseases pose to young people.
“Sadly, we have all seen tragic cases where young people have died after contracting this deadly disease, so today was great opportunity for our boys to learn more about how to recognise the signs and symptoms of the illness and what they can do to tackle meningitis.
It was also a fantastic chance for our boys to meet two such distinguished sportspeople. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to meet and ask questions of a Rugby World Cup Winner and an Olympic gold medallist, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our boys.”