A man who started up an annual charity walk in Derry 25 years ago to raise awareness about meningitis will begin his final journey from the same spot this weekend.
Steve Dayman founded the UK charity Meningitis Now following the death of his son infant son in 1982.
In 1992, he arrived in Derry to begin the first of many treks from the Guildhall to raise awareness and funding.
This Saturday will see the Gloucestershire native again setting out at 9am on his 34th and final long distance walk. The first leg of the 200 mile trek along the coast will see the 68-year-old walking from Derry to Limavady on Saturday, and then the following day from Limavady to Portrush. Throughout next week he will visit Ballyvoy, Carnlough, Whitehead, Newtownards, Strangford and Newcastle before arriving at Rostrevor on June 4. Local families affected by meningitis will join Steve for various stages of his walk.
Steve has already walked over 12,000 miles and raised over £2 million to fight meningitis. Meningitis Now has been instrumental in the introduction of five vaccines to fight the devastating disease, despite Steve being told when he first started campaigning that he wouldn’t see any in his lifetime. Steve hopes to raise £25,000 during the walk for Meningitis Now’s work.
He said: “I’ve been involved with the meningitis movement for over 34 years, since losing my 14-month-old son Spencer in 1982 to meningococcal meningitis,” Steve said.
“There were no organisations to represent the disease then, so I’ve dedicated my life to help create a better understanding of the disease.”
Steve became the founding chairman of the charity in 1986. “Families and communities who have experienced meningitis have been the driving force behind our activities. Together we were the first charity to address this awful disease,” he said.
“Since then we have funded over £12 million of preventative research, distributed over 20 million awareness symptoms cards, taken over one million helpline calls and supported thousands of families who lives have been devastated by meningitis. Spencer’s passing pioneered the greater understanding of meningitis which we have today.”
He added: “The fight against meningitis is far from over, and we would like to hear from other families in Northern Ireland who have experienced meningitis, and could help us continue our journey.”
Donations will be collected from the public throughout the walk, and those wishing to can also donate via www.MeningitisNow.org/steveswalk.