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Manchester High School for Girls


Students from Manchester High School for Girls learned that young people are among the most at-risk of contracting meningitis as two top UK sports personalities visited the school today, Monday 15th January.

Former England rugby player and BBC sports commentator, Matt Dawson, and GB Olympic gold medal hockey captain, Kate Richardson-Walsh, were in Manchester to raise awareness of the devastating illness as part of pharmaceutical and healthcare company GSK’s Tackle Meningitis Campaign.

Aspiring rugby player Lucy Brooker from year 11 met her hero, Matt Dawson. (Pictured here with Mrs Hewitt)

A recent GSK survey revealed that, in the North West, understanding of the risk of meningitis among teens remains worryingly low; just one in ten parents and young people aged 14-18 are aware that teenagers are among the most at-risk for contracting the disease. The survey also highlighted a lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms of the illness.

During their visit to MHSG, Matt and Kate met a group of aspiring hockey and rugby players to give them tips and advice on how to get on in the world of professional sport.

Director of Sport at Manchester High School for Girls, Mrs Sarah Newman, commented: “We were delighted to welcome Matt and Kate to talk to our students and staff about this important issue.

“Some of our girls already play at a high level and some continue sport at university with the aim to play professionally. Keeping fit and healthy is, therefore, very important to them. Meeting Matt and Kate was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our players to meet their heroes and talk to them about their aspirations.”

Manchester High School for Girls student, 15-year-old Lottie Kielty from Cheadle Hulme, as recently been selected for England Under-16s Hockey team. She said: “I watched Kate lead the England team to victory at the Rio Olympics, she is such an inspiration to me. It was a real honour to meet her and talk to her about our shared passion for hockey. In the future I hope to be able to play at Kate’s level and achieve great things in the sport.”

Manchester High School for Girls students, Livia Baker from Didsbury and Ella Hampson from Lymm are both playing in the UK Lions Hockey team. At 13, both have a bright future ahead of them in the sport. Livia said: “It was great to be selected to the national team in the autumn, but meeting Matt and Kate today was icing on the cake!

“Our year group has just been vaccinated for meningitis and, since Matt and Kate’s talk, I appreciate the need for the vaccination much more now that I am aware of the dangers the disease can pose. I would definitely recommend young people look up meningitis and learn about the symptoms.”

Ella added: “Meeting such big sports stars like Matt and Kate has inspired me to keep training hard. Livia and I have enjoyed a successful season with UK Lions Hockey and we can’t wait to see our team mates and tell them all about today!”