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Everyone at the Meningitis Trust is devastated to hear of the death of our Young Ambassador Alex Williams. Alex suffered a stroke at his home in Ashton-under-Lyne on Sunday, followed by another one in hospital on Monday evening. Sadly this afternoon Alex passed away with his family at his side.
We send our deepest sympathy to Alison, Wayne and Alex’s sister Abbie, and all his family and friends, who will miss Alex’s positive approach and his larger than life personality.
Sue Davie, Chief Executive at the Trust, said: "Alex has been an inspiration to everyone at the Trust over many years and a stalwart supporter of all our activities. He was a constant reminder of why we do what we do, and why it is so important. We are all grateful that we had the opportunity, just a week ago, to spend the day with Alex when he took centre stage at our Young Ambassadors Takeover Day.
"Alex had been on fine form too earlier in the month, when he was one of the Trust’s team delivering its Education Petition to Downing Street."
Indeed, it had been quite a year for Alex. At the end of May he carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Hindley and shortly before this had featured on the Channel 4 programme, The Secret Millionaire, where he met property developer Matthew Newbury. Matthew, who lost a leg in a serious road accident, was amazed by Alex’s positive attitude and cheerful approach to life and, as a result, the show saw him offer to convert part of Alex’s house in line with his needs.
Alex, who had been volunteering for the Trust for ten years, spent much of his time raising awareness of meningitis, its after-effects and the work that the Trust does. He had only recently given talks to 29 school assemblies. Not only this, but Alex put on events, held bucket collections, and spoke at conferences and our family days about his experience. He shared his story on stage, and with other families, as well as in the media, highlighting how devastating meningitis can be.
It is particularly poignant that his death comes just as he had been shortlisted for Third Sector magazine’s Volunteer of the Year award, awarded to the volunteer who has, over time, shown the greatest commitment and achievement. This is the pre-eminent volunteering award in the country and would have been a fitting recognition of Alex’s contribution to the Trust.
Alex was an inspirational role model to all those who experienced meningitis. He has shown that despite everything, you can emerge from meningitis positively and build a full and fulfilling life. He was not only a good example to children and teenagers struggling with their own experience of the disease, but also to their parents, demonstrating that there is hope after meningitis and that staying positive is invaluable.Eighteen-year-old, Alex, contracted bacterial meningitis aged 7 and was left with severe after-effects, including memory loss, deafness in both ears and bilateral footdrop, which meant he was unlikely to walk.
Alex, who lived in Ashton-under-Lyne, fell ill on his parents’ wedding day; the disease struck fast and he spent one month in a coma on a life support machine. Adapting to life as a wheelchair user, Alex was determined not to let his disability be a barrier and he replaced football with wheelchair basketball. He also coached a disabled dance class.In a recent interview for the Trust’s magazine Headlines, Alex said: "Since having meningitis so many positive things have happened to me. I have won many awards such as the News of the World's Children Champion and BBC Radio One Teen Award.
"I now play wheelchair basketball which I couldn't have done before and I coach a disabled dance class. So many experiences have come my way now since my new life began. I love the Meningitis Trust now, it means so much to me. There is no way I'm going to let anyone go through what I did and feel it's the end ... it's only the beginning believe me."
Sue Davie added: "Thank you Alex for your passion, determination and fight. You were inspirational in your enthusiasm and commitment. Your short but valuable life has provided us with the courage and inspiration to continue our work to support everybody who needs us following meningitis. I’m sure you would have expected nothing less.
"We will all miss you terribly, but I can assure you your spirit lives on in our work."
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