Former Swimming Instructor Presented With Community Award
A mum from Wigan who has undertaken charitable work following the death of her son after contracting meningitis has been presented with a community award for her efforts in raising awareness of the disease.
Theodore Cheetham-Serjent was five-years-old when he became unwell with a high temperature and belly ache. He was seen at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary but was sent home.
His condition deteriorated and he died the following day.
Following his death in December 2019, Theo’s mum Paula, 43, and dad Paul, 51, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether his meningitis should have been diagnosed and treated sooner.
With the investigation ongoing, Paula, who lives in Hindley, is keen to raise awareness of the infection. To honour his memory, she has spent the past year fundraising for charity.
As a result of her efforts, the Hindley and Hindley Green Community Action Group presented her with a Heart of the Community Award. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group was unable to hold a ceremony, and instead delivered the award to Paula’s home in December to tie in with International Volunteer Day.
Expert Opinion“The past year has understandably been incredibly difficult for Paula and Paul following Theo’s death in such tragic circumstances.
Paula has been determined to raise awareness of meningitis and its symptoms, and help families affected by this life-threatening condition.
It’s great to hear that Paula’s efforts have been recognised by her local community. We’ll continue to support her and Paul as they try to come to terms with everything they have been through and establish answers to their questions.”
David Woolmer - Solicitor
Theo fell ill on 29 December, 2019, complaining of belly ache. Paula said he also had a high temperature, sore throat and was “erratic in his behaviour.” She called the NHS 111 helpline between 7pm and 8pm and was advised to take Theo to A&E.
Theo was examined by a doctor. By this point, he had developed bruising up both legs. Paula told her legal team she was advised by the doctor that it was suspected gastroenteritis and they were sent home without medication.
At around 11pm, Theo was sick, and at 4.45am the following day Paula noticed a red rash on his right side. She called 999 and Theo was taken to hospital by ambulance. He died around 9am.
Since Theo died, Paula has struggled with grief and had to give up her job as a swimming instructor. She has been carrying out charity work to help other families affected by meningitis and to raise awareness of the signs to look out for.
Paula and Paul also have another son, Teddy, who is five years old.
Paula said: “Losing Theo is the worst thing we’ve ever had to go through. To see him being resuscitated was devastating, and then we were told that his organs had shut down and there was nothing more they could do. At that point, it felt like my heart had been ripped out.
“It’s been just over a year since it happened, and I still can’t accept that my little boy is no longer here. Theo and Teddy were inseparable, and I break down whenever I think of them not growing up together.
“I struggled to know what to do for a long time, so I decided to put my time into doing charity work to honour Theo’s memory by helping others be aware of what meningitis can do and when to seek medical advice.
“If it can help save one life, that in itself is enough of an achievement for me, but to know that the community also supports what I’m doing is incredible and I’m so grateful for the award.”