Melbourn campaigner, 15, descends on Downing Street for meningitis cause

Max Pilings on the campaign trail. Credit: Leo Wilkinson Photography

Max Pilings on the campaign trail. Credit: Leo Wilkinson Photography - Credit: Archant

A 15-year-old campaigner from Melbourn descended on Downing Street to grill the government over a life-saving meningitis vaccine.

Max Pilings, who contracted the disease at the age of four, joined 10 other Meningitis Now young ambassadors who were invited by Prime Minister David Cameron to share their views.

The invitation was in response to the charity’s campaign to get the UK’s first Meningitis B vaccine – held up in price negotiations between the government and its manufacturer – made available free to babies on the NHS.

Max, who goes to Melbourn Village College, said: “Experiencing the disease has affected me in a lot of ways, from not being able to go out with my mates or doing certain activities including bike riding and swimming.

“I have also missed a lot of school work due to my surgery to lengthen my leg.


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“It has changed my life dramatically but, if I didn’t have to go through all my operations and stuff to do with my leg, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.”

The group of youngsters sat around the cabinet table to question government health advisor Nick Seddon over the delay and presented an emergency vaccine petition with 11,250 signatures calling for negotiations to conclude before the general election next month.

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Max added: “Sadly on the day, we weren’t able to meet David Cameron, but it proved a brilliant chance to grill the government.

“I believe they listened and took away some important points.

“The day was insightful and a tour gave a fascinating behind the scenes look at the Prime Minister’s residence.

“Becoming a young ambassador is important, because I have experienced the disease and can relate to a lot of people and help spread the awareness it needs and talk to people who have had it.”

Meningitis Now chief executive Sue Davie said: “We’re grateful to Max and the young ambassadors, who gave their time to help with this latest Beat it Now! campaign push.

“We hope they take on board what we said and resolve negotiations before more babies die or suffer life-changing after-effects.

“It would be a legacy the government could be proud of.”

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