WARM tributes have been paid to the Meningitis Trust's first young ambassador Alex Williams, who has died aged just 18.

Alex - who devoted his life to helping other young people with meningitis - contracted the condition 11 years ago and was left with serious health problems.

Just last month, on Tuesday, July 24, he took part in the first young ambassadors takeover day at the Meningitis Trust headquarters in Stroud during which he and several other volunteers had the chance to see how the organisation is run and provide feedback on services.

Alex took on the role of chief executive.

The following Sunday he suffered a stroke and sadly died three days later.

Alex was described as an 'inspirational role model' to everyone affected by meningitis and lived a fulfilling life despite his health problems.

He remained positive and was determined to show that those who have contracted meningitis can still live a rewarding life.

Alex recently gave talks at 29 school assemblies, put on fundraising events, held bucket collections and spoke at conferences.

His work brought several awards including a Radio One Teen Award and Alex was named as a News of the World Children Champion and was also chosen to carry the Olympic flame.

He contracted bacterial meningitis at the age of seven and spent a month in a coma on a life support machine. The after-effects included poor memory, deafness and disability which meant he needed a wheelchair.

But this did not become a barrier and Alex soon replaced football with wheelchair basketball and later coached a disabled dance class.

In a statement, the trust's chief executive Sue Davie said: "Despite all that meningitis had thrown at him, Alex considered himself lucky and was determined to show parents just what their children could achieve. "When I asked him if he would be our first young ambassador his reaction was typical - 'I would be honoured' he said. Alex, the honour was all ours. "Just the week before he died, Alex and his fellow young ambassadors had taken over the trust for the day, with Alex taking my job - and he was great.

"And earlier in July he had joined me and other families delivering our education petition to Downing Street. "During his short life, Alex achieved more than most of us will achieve in a lifetime.

"What he has done for the trust is incredible and I can assure you, his legacy will live on.

"I also know that Alex's fellow young ambassadors will do his memory proud."

The young ambassadors have all experienced meningitis and help shape the trust's work and support others. Alex lived with his family in Ashton under Lyne near Manchester and was studying sports coaching at college.

His parents Alison and Wayne thanked everyone who had sent messages of support.

They added that Alex was a wonderful brother to his sister Abbie, eight.

In a comment on the trust's website, his mother Alison wrote: "I want to say how much it means to us as a family to have such lovely words said about our son.

"Alex is our world and always will be. The Meningitis Trust, staff and volunteers meant more to him than anything, he lived every minute trying to get the message about meningitis to all who would listen.

"Sue, we could never have coped without you and your team.

"Our lives are totally shattered but we are determined that Alex's work must go on and we must be strong together."

The family described Alex as 'energetic, caring, fun-loving, positive and inspirational'. "We want everyone to help his fight against meningitis with the trust - we know that this is exactly what he would have wanted, his ambitions will live on through us and his other fellow young ambassadors at the trust," they added.