Great Cornard: Fund-raising run in Connie’s name

Gillian Denton is running the Silverstone half marathon in aid of Meningitis UK and in memory of her

Gillian Denton is running the Silverstone half marathon in aid of Meningitis UK and in memory of her daughter Connie. - Credit: Archant

IF Gillian Denton can prevent just one parent from going through the pain of losing a child to meningitis, then she believes the trials of training for a half marathon will have been worthwhile.

For the past four years, the 43-year-old from Great Cornard near Sudbury has been grieving the loss of her daughter Connie, who died from a bacterial strain of pneumococcal meningitis in May 2009.

The 11-year-old Great Cornard Middle School student, who lost her life just two days after being taken ill, did not exhibit the usual signs associated with the disease according to her mother.

To raise the profile of the different types of meningitis - and gain vital funds for research into a multi-strain vaccination - “non-runner” Mrs Denton has signed up to complete the 13-mile distance at Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire next month. The event on March 3 will also commemorate Connie’s birthday, which was on March 4.

Mrs Denton, who also has a six-year-old son, said: “I am running for the charity Meningitis UK, which is looking for ways to come up with a vaccine that will treat different kinds of meningitis. If it stops just one child from falling prey to this terrible disease then it will be well worth it.”

Connie, who was in the Girl Guides and enjoyed visiting National Trust properties, had a “zest for life” according to her mum. On the day she became ill, she returned home from school complaining of severe earache and knee pain. The following morning she was taken to Colchester General where she was put on antibiotics. The next day she was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where her parents were given the heartbreaking news that there was nothing more to be done to save Connie, and her life support machine was switched off.

Mrs Denton, who lives with her husband Glen and son Jack, said: “It has been devastating for the whole family but you just have to find a way to keep going. Connie suffered from glandular fever earlier in 2009 and doctors believe this weakened her immune system so it is unlikely they could have saved her even if she had been treated earlier. But my message to other parents is that they should be aware that there is not always a rash with meningitis – they should go with their instincts and seek help immediately if they suspect something is wrong.”

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Go to to support Mrs Denton in her fundraising run.