Wellesbourne meningitis survivor runs for ‘amazing’ Jo

A meningitis survivor from Wellesbourne, whose close friend from Kenilworth recently died from the disease, has run 120 miles in two days to raise funds towards research into the condition.
Sarah Louise Lithgow on her canal run.Sarah Louise Lithgow on her canal run.
Sarah Louise Lithgow on her canal run.

Sarah-Louise Lithgow, who works for Warwickshire Police, spent a month fighting off a prolific form of meningitis after contracting it in 2007 and had to take several months more off work - but she made a full recovery.

But her close friend and colleague Jo Graham suddenly collapsed in December last year and was in an induced coma for four days before the mother-of-three, whose family live in Kenilworth, died. Meningitis was not diagnosed or mentioned until the postmortem examination revealed it.

Ms Lithgow, 31, who has been taking on physical challenges to raise funds for Meningitis UK for the past three years, said: “I always think I am exceptionally lucky to be alive after finding out how evil and relentless the disease is.

Jo Graham with her children.Jo Graham with her children.
Jo Graham with her children.

“I started fundraising for Meningitis UK to fight the disease because I just pulled through.

“But after we lost Jo, I decided that I need to raise money to spare others the pain of losing a loved one to it.”

Ms Lithgow’s efforts for the charity has seen her cover 419 miles - through a combination of running, cycling and walking - along the Grand Union Canal between Birmingham and London.

This year, she had already chosen to run 120 miles in two days - from Leamington to Oxford - before her friend had died.

She said: “I remember Jo asking me what 2013’s crazy challenge would be. I said I wanted to run 120 miles along the canal over a Saturday and Sunday.

“Jo laughed and said ‘that’s just mad, but I know you’ll do it’. It was to be like the other fundraisers, but then we lost Jo and it had to be in her memory, for her – a friend and amazing person with a huge personality.”

After completing her challenge on June 2, Ms Lithgow said she was “aching for days”, but it had been such an important thing for her to do. She said: “When I finished, I was so emotional – I broke down in tears thinking of Jo.”

She has so far raised £1,600 for Meningitis UK through this latest challenge.

Meningitis UK founder Steve Dayman said: “It’s extremely distressing to hear that Sarah-Louise and everyone who knows her have been touched by meningitis twice.

“Again, she has showed determination and grit to complete a mammoth challenge for us as well as the hospital that fought gallantly to try to save Jo.”

To contribute towards Ms Lithgow’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/Sarah-LouiseLithgow1