Ipswich: Warning over the dangers of meningitis from family who lost their little boy

MARTLESHAM: Two years ago Mark and Jenny Smith lost their tiny son to the vicious brain bug meningitis.

Thinking their little toddler Taylor Westley-Smith had chicken pox, the loving parents discovered his fate too late.

And after another meningitis scare with 18-month-old daughter Erin, the pair are urging people not to take any chances with the lives of their children by getting to know the signs of meningitis.

The Evening Star is re-launching its campaign to ensure parents know all the signs and symptoms of the killer bug and has produced posters so people have a checklist to consult.

Mark said: “If you suspect your child has meningitis take them to A&E straight away, don’t wait to be told. It is so important for us to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of this horrible disease.”

Taylor was nine months old when the disease claimed his young life in a matter of hours. When the first signs of a rash appeared the couple, of Sadlers Place, Martlesham, called NHS Direct.

By the time a doctor called back five hours later to tell the Smiths chicken pox would not appear that quickly, they rushed into Taylor’s room to find him unresponsive.

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On October 26, the couple welcomed their second son, Morgan into the world, 18 months after daughter Erin was born. Both have the middle name Taylor after their brother.

But just three days after Morgan’s birth, the family was rocked by another meningitis scare. Erin developed a rash on her face prompting them to rush their daughter into Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department.

“After what happened to Taylor, we didn’t wait with Erin, we went straight to hospital,” said Mark. “We thought the worst straight away, it was terrifying.

“Thankfully she was ok, but we won’t take any chances.”

Since losing Taylor, Mark and Jenny have set up the Taylor Westley-Smith Memorial Fund. Through various charity events the couple have so far raised more than �25,000 in their son’s memory.

Mark added: “Morgan is doing really well, he is the spitting image of Taylor.

“It is lovely he is so like him, but it does make it very hard as well.

“It’s been two years and we can remember the good bits now.

“His cheeky face and his lovely smile. We see bits of Taylor in both the kids, that is how he will live on through Erin and Morgan and through the memorial fund.”

n Tell us your experiences of meningitis. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@ eveningstar.co.uk.