THE family of a “cheeky and smiley” teenager who died of meningitis host their fourth annual memorial walk.
Eighteen-year-old Chris Pegler, of Wotton-under-Edge, died within 24 hours of contracting the dreaded disease.
Such was his popularity, Chris’ untimely death prompted a mass moped ride through his hometown the following day, with more than 500 people gathering to pay their respects.
Some 700 people also attended his funeral.
The former Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School pupil developed a fever, sore throat and felt sick on Wednesday morning, November 17, 2010.
His mum Karen, 42, spoke to a doctor who thought it was a virus and suggested diluting paracetamol.
When they turned on his light to check on him in the night, they were stunned to see Chris had a rash on his face, chest and arms.
Karen immediately suspected meningitis and called an ambulance, but Chris was in a critical condition, his organs began to fail and his heart stopped.
Despite several resuscitation attempts, the popular teenager was pronounced dead at 5.15am.
Since that fateful day, Karen, his dad Steve and 19-year-old sister Bex have devoted time to fundraise for Meningitis Now to help save others from a similar ordeal.
Karen said: “Our lives will never be the same – we talk about Chris every day – it’s devastating.
“Fundraising helps with the grieving process – it keeps us focused on the next thing we’re doing.
“I know we can’t bring Chris back, but we can raise money to help with vaccine research to save others.
“It’s essential meningitis is stopped – the sooner they eradicate every strain the better.”
The family host the latest Chris Pegler Memorial Walk for Stroud-based Meningitis Now on Saturday, August 2.
The 10-mile walk, starting at Synwell Playing Fields, Wotton, at 10am, promises to be a communal time to remember Chris while helping to stamp out meningitis.
It goes through Charfield, Wickwar, Kingswood, includes a free sandwich and crisps, takes in a few pubs and finishes at The Star, Wotton.
Karen said: “The walk is always emotional, but a great way to unite to remember Chris – forever missed and never forgotten.
“It also offers some wonderful countryside and fingers crossed for sunshine.
“We hope as many people as possible come to remember Chris and raise money for such a worthy cause.”
Meningitis Now founder Steve Dayman MBE, of Alveston, who launched the UK’s meningitis movement after losing his baby Spencer to the disease in 1982, will join in the walk.
He added: “What happened to Chris sadly illustrates how fast meningitis can strike, with few symptoms to distinguish it from more common illnesses.
“The walk is a solemn occasion, but vital to remember Chris and raise awareness.
“I look forward to seeing everyone on the day.”
For more information or sponsorship forms, call Karen on 01453 520270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the disease, visit www.MeningitisNow.org.