Buckingham woman to take part in second half marathon for meningitis charity

Clare McGrath crosses the finishing line at this year's Big Half marathon
Clare McGrath crosses the finishing line at this year's Big Half marathon

A woman from Buckingham is preparing to enter The Big Half marathon for the second year in a row.

Clare McGrath took part in last year's race after her daughter Niamh suffered meningitis, and she enjoyed her run so much she is taking part again in March 2019.

Niamh Collins

Niamh Collins

Clare said: “My baby daughter Niamh had meningitis at just six weeks old.

"Luckily she pulled through and she is now a happy and healthy three-year-old.

"I was really honoured to be able to run for the Meningitis Research Foundation, it’s a really small way of giving back for all the support and information we have had from the charity in the last three years.

"It’s such an amazing event and I’m lined up to run again at the 2019 Big Half for this great cause."

Speaking about Niamh's diagnosis Clare said: "It was devastating - I just crumbled and immediately feared the worst.

"I have done a lot of research since the diagnosis and I am pleased to be able to help raise awareness.

"The fact that Niamh is must better now means that I see myself as one of the lucky ones - there are others who are significantly worse off."

Clare was a complete non-runner before she decided to take part in the 13 mile race around the capital which features many parts of the London Marathon route.

She said: "It is amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it and there is a cause at the end.

"Even if you are anti-fitness you can't fail to be inspired by the atmosphere

Clare’s aunt, Sister Margaret McGrath, was recently asked to speak at the 2018 Glasgow Meningitis Ball and decided to write a poem entitled 'The ME in Meningitis.'

The ME in Meningitis

The ding of Social Media

waking me from sleep,

the picture of my niece’s child

that makes me want to weep.

A swollen red-faced six-week-old

taped and tubed.

Her mother waits,

anxious for news that’s good.

Lumbar puncture…

on a tiny frame, tiny wristband, tiny name.

I am on my knees, praying that this virus

isn’t meningococcal meningitis;

that in this insidious lottery

she will beat the odds

and grow to her potential,

having everything essential

to live life to the full, not wrapped in cotton wool,

her limbs intact, for the awful fact

of the matter is that many do not survive unscathed.

On a night like this one, filled with joy and cheer

as befits the Meningitis Ball,

think of those you hold dear, and no matter

how large or small your giving,

someone’s chance of living a fuller life

will not be measured by the toss of a coin.

Thank you for giving Niamh the chance

to sing, to play, to dance!