It is a deadly disease which can strike without any warning. It has killed one in 10 people, and leaves a quarter of survivors with life altering after-affects. These affects can range from deafness, to brain damage, to the loss of limbs.

To mark National Meningitis Week (15-21) Norresa Perucho speaks to a survivor from Chiswick.

Chiswick’s local Meningitis Ambassador, Chris Henry, was only 23 years old when she contracted Staphylococcus Meningitis.

Like most people, Chris enjoyed time shopping on Chiswick High Street. She also enjoyed going out for dinner and a drink, at her favourite restaurant, Charlotte’s Bistro on Turnham Green.

However, in the year 2000, things changed whilst she working on a show at her college.

“I started feeling unwell, at the beginning of the show. It was not until the end of the show that I felt much worse.”

“I knew I was ill, but I was too ill to think it was meningitis,” continued Henry, who is now 37.

Chris who was also a member of the student union at the time, had coincidentally just put up posters across the college informing students about the signs and symptoms of Meningitis.

“It was only when I realised what my symptoms meant from remembering the poster that I thought to myself ‘crikey’. So I rang the NHS straight away, and they told me to go to hospital.

“I was on a hospital bed within minutes of arriving, and I did not get up again for a few weeks.”

It was through developing the classic symptoms of vomiting, a fever and a headache, that Chris realised she had a meningitis.

“I did not have a rash. Some people think that having the rash is one of the key signs, but it is not always the case,” she said.

After spending a few weeks in hospital, she was able to go home, but it was not for a good six to nine months before her body recovered, as for most nights she was in bed by 5pm.

Chris said: “It will still take a few years for my head to recover, as I still get the headaches. I also get nightmares too. The nightmares were happening nearly every night, but they have gone down to about one a month.”

As the local ambassador for the National Meningitis Awareness Week, Chris believes it is important to raise public awareness as even though people recover from the disease, they still need support.

She said: “It really knocks your confidence. I was only 23 years old. I could have nearly died,

“I am so grateful to be better, I am more appreciative of my family and friends. Time with them is precious.

“It affects your way of thinking. For example, I used to go shopping just to buy random stuff, but now I go shopping to buy what I need. What was important to me back then does not seem as important to me anymore.”

Instead, now when she gets some free time, she enjoys long walks alongside the river by Kew Bridge.

Meningitis can impact a person’s life at any age, but it is children under five and students who are most at risk. 

Christopher Head, the Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation is grateful for people, just like Chris who support Meningitis Awareness Week.

He said: “Chris’ personal experience really brings home how devastating these diseases can be and why it’s so important to be aware of the symptoms and be prepared to act fast when loved ones fall sick.”

For more information or to read more about people just like Chris, visit

Donations can be made online or a donation of £5 can be done from a mobile phone by texting GIFT00 £5 to 70070