Football club manager kicks off charity event

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A FOOTBALL club manager, who beat a bout of meningitis, helped youngsters kick off a sponsored walk in aid of a charity that helps people affected by the disease.

Richard Wilkins, of Bury Town FC, cut the starting ribbon to launch the ‘toddle waddle’ at South Lee Nursery, where children raised funds for the Meningitis Trust.

The 46-year-old, who is also a lecturer and head of football at West Suffolk College, overcame the viral strain of the infection in March after spending four nights at West Suffolk Hospital.

He said: “It was just like the flu but with a massive headache behind my eyes.

“I’m still not 100 per cent as I get a few more headaches than I used to and feel like my concentration level isn’t quite what it was before. I’m sure that will come back.”

Although viral meningitis is considered a more common strand than the life-threatening bacterial form, Mr Wilkins admits that it’s still ‘a nasty thing to have’.

He said: “It does knock you for six and takes you back a bit but I’m sure people have had it worse than me.

“The college was very good, eased me back into work at a sensible level and monitored my progress.”

Mr Wilkins added that he was ‘more than happy’ to take part in the nursery’s event, which was for a ‘really good cause’.

About 50 children and 30 adults enjoyed the walk around the grounds of South Lee School, where the nursery is based.

Wearing yellow clothing, they were led by a member of staff who was dressed as a duck.

They have already raised £100 for the charity with more money expected through sponsorship.

Manager Julie Last said: “We had a child who was admitted to hospital last year with meningitis. It was a national event so we thought we would join in.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere. All of the parents joined in with the fun and were really appreciative of the day. Luckily the sun came out for us.

“We’re really pleased with the amount raised so far.”