1:48pm Thursday 24th April 2014
Exclusive By Kate Wilson
THEIR Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex were welcomed at the offices of Meningitis Now in Stroud today, Thursday – a visit which coincided with World Meningitis Day.
HRH Princess Sophie has been royal patron of the charity for 10 years – but today her husband Prince Edward joined her to meet staff, volunteers and families at the charity’s headquarters in Daniel’s Industrial Estate.
The royal couple met supporters who have been instrumental in the charity’s successful campaign to persuade the Government to introduce a vaccine for meningitis B.
They also met a number of families who have been affected by the disease.
Aurelie Brunet-Lua attended the event with her three-year-old son Mattia Sacca who contracted meningococcal septicemia, a form of meningitis which affects the blood as well as the brain, when he was just four-months-old.
Every year Aurelie and her family organise a pyjama day to raise money for the charity and so far they have raised more than £4,000.
After speaking to the royal couple Mattia also presented Princess Sophie with a posy of flowers.
The Countess also spoke to Michelle Bresnahan and her 17-year-old daughter Charlotte.
Michelle’s son Ryan died four years ago at the age of 16.
“We had a very long chat and she asked a lot of questions about Ryan and what happened to him,” said Michelle, who after Ryan’s death launched her own website ‘A Life for a Cure’ to run alongside Meningitis Now.
“She was very sweet and seemed very shocked by the speed of which Ryan died, as it was less than an hour.”
Ryan’s sister Charlotte, who was 13 at the time, was with him when he died.
“The princess said she was impressed by how strong I seemed and as she left told me to look after my mum,” said Charlotte, who hopes to attend the London School of Economics and Political Science in September.
Countryfile presenter Adam Henson also spent some time speaking to both the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Mr Henson has been involved in a number of fundraising events for the charity since some family friends lost their son to meningitis.
“The both seemed genuinely interested in speaking to everyone they were introduced to and I have a huge amount of respect for the work they do for the charity,” he said.
Stroud MP Neil Carmichael also spoke to the couple and said the Countess thanked him for the work he has done in Parliament for the meningitis B vaccine.
The visit to the charity’s headquarters in Stroud is part of the royal couple’s tour of Wessex for Prince Edward’s 50th birthday. Meningitis Now chief executive Sue Davie praised the Countess’s commitment to the charity.
“We were so delighted when the Countess requested to come and visit us as part of the tour with her husband and it was also lovely that Prince Edward was able to visit us for the first time and see the work that we do,” said Mrs Davie.
After her tour the Countess praised the work that Sue Davie and the rest of the Meningitis Now team have been doing in relation to the meningitis B vaccine.
HRH Princess Sophie also thanked the charity’s supports and the families who have been affected by the disease for channelling their energies and emotion into the organisation.
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