Nana is lucky to still have her husband after twice developing meningitis due to an ear infection


A girl feels lucky to still have her husband after he developed meningitis twice from an ear infection.

Sylvia Stoneham’s husband Len first battled the disease, following an ear infection, in 1995 when he was 38. He spent a week in intensive care for four weeks in hospital and he also suffered a stroke.

Two years ago in 2020 he had another ear infection which turned into sepsis and meningitis. The former long-distance truck driver was on life support for six days and spent around 20 days in a hospital bed.

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Sylvia, who lives with Len in Houghton-le-Spring, said: “Both times it was because of an ear infection. The first time he had an ear infection, he went to work, came home and he wasn’t very well, he went to bed and fell unconscious.

“The second time he had an ear infection, we went to A&E. and they checked all his obs. He explained the first time he had meningitis. He went home to bed and woke up around four in the morning very we knew he was very sick.he was diagnosed with sepsis in the ambulance and when we got to the hospital they said he had meningitis.

Sylvia said Len, who had none of the typical symptoms of meningitis, survived thanks to an injection of antibiotics by medical professionals. She said: “I think it’s important for people to follow their instincts. You know when someone’s not right.”

Len has had five meningitis shots since the second time he beat the infection. Sylvia said he’s had two more ear infections since then and she thinks they saved his life. She said: “He was very lucky both times. I feel very lucky to still have him here.”

Sylvia, who has three children and two grandchildren, works as a professional fundraiser and has raised over £100,000 for charity.

She is organizing a tour of Germany and its famous Christmas markets in November this year, to raise funds for Meningitis Now and The Fire Fighters Charity. It will be the 20th anniversary of the coach trips to the Christmas markets organized by her.

A group photo from a previous trip organized by Sylvia

She said: “I am delighted to support Meningitis Now because I know the disease and the impact it can have on individuals and families. I first raised funds for Meningitis Now in 1995 with a morning coffee, a PC (a huge prize at the time!) and a weekend of music and family fun, following Len’s illness.”

The Christmas market trip includes:

  • luxury travel aboard a Siesta Club Class Premier coach
  • Round-trip overnight ferry trip with cabins between Newcastle and Amsterdam
  • Four-night dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation at the family-run Hotel Waldeck in the village of Burgen-Am-Mosel
  • A wine tasting experience in a wine museum and a cruise on the Rhine, including the famous rock of the Lorelei.
  • Daily excursions to the Christmas markets of Aachen (including the Lindt Chocolate Factory shop), Cologne, Ahrweiler, Rudesheim and Bernkastel-kues.

Sylvia said: “Anyone can join us if they can get to the Newcastle ferry terminal. We can meet them there, or there are local pick-up points in the North East, for example Middlesbrough, Bishop Auckland and Sunderland.

“If people can’t attend, they can still participate in the event by letting family and friends know about it, or offering raffle or raffle prizes. We are hosting fundraising activities at the hotel every night, including Len’s (in)famous quiz.

“I would like to thank Siesta International Holidays, who have been supporting the event for 19 years. I really couldn’t do it without their help and support. And of course, everyone who joins us, regulars and newbies; they are always generous !”

The trip to the Christmas Market costs £499 for six nights/seven days and takes place from November 24-30. For more information and to book seats, call Sylvia on 07544 567161 or email [email protected]

The trip visits:

Aachen: During Advent, the market squares and the winding alleys around the cathedral and the town hall of Aachen are transformed into a magical Christmas village, with all the images , sounds and aromas of Christmas! Taste the local specialty, Aachener Printen – a kind of gingerbread.

Cologne: This famous cathedral city is home to several Christmas markets. You can even take the little train to get from one to the other! These markets all have a different theme, with a fantastic selection of culinary delights, local crafts and lovely gifts.

Ahrweiler: Beautiful architecture, a small market square with a cozy Christmas market and local shops characterize this beautiful Roman fortified town.

Rüdesheim: The destination after a cruise on the Rhine. Rudesheim’s main street is lined with market stalls and the traditional market square where friends and family gather with visitors to sample the culinary delights on offer. There is also a cable car, offering stunning views.

Bernkastel-Kues: A pretty medieval village with a real chocolate box backdrop to the cozy Christmas market on the market square. Look for the huge Advent calendar on the windows of the half-timbered houses behind the market. Each day a window opens to reveal a poem or story.

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