Kirkcaldy teen’s death from meningitis aged 13 inspires sister to run Edinburgh half marathon

The sister of a Kirkcaldy teenager who died of meningitis is running the Edinburgh Half Marathon later this month in his memory.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:40 pm

Rachel Smith, 24, is taking part to raise money for charity Meningitis Now.

She has already raised £700 towards the charity’s lifesaving and life-changing work, surpassing her goal of £500.

It was in February 2013 that her younger brother Gregor, aged 13, unexpectedly fell ill.

Rachel Smith with her brother Gregor.

On the Saturday morning he had been playing football with his local team, Kirkcaldy United. In the afternoon he played football with his friends and organised one to sleepover.

In the early hours of Sunday he awoke with a high temperature and sore legs which was diagnosed as a virus.

But, Gregor grew weaker, his colour went pale and he was referred to A&E, who diagnosed a viral bug.

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Gregor had to return to the hospital three hours later as a rash started to spread. He died with his parents by his side six hours later.

Rachel added: “Nine years later we still think about him and miss him dearly every day.

“Over that time, a total of £26,500 has been raised for Gregor's Forever Fund and I aim to continue to grow this amount.

“These events keep Gregor's memory strong which is extremely important to me. It gives me a lot of motivation.”

The half marathon is part of the Edinburgh Marathon Festival taking place over the weekend of May 28-29.

Rachel, a customer service manager for Sainsbury's, who is getting married to fiance Alan in 2024, already lives a very active lifestyle and enjoys running.

“I was initially meant to complete the half marathon in 2020, but due to COVID-19 I had to postpone,” she said.

“Now I am finally able to do it this year and looking forward to doing it for Meningitis Now, a charity close to my heart.

The keen runner is looking to get around in under 2 hours and 15 minutes.

“I completed the Edinburgh Half Marathon in 2016 in 2hrs 15m, so I would be extremely happy with any improvement,” she added.

“Since then, I have taken part in a couple of 10k events and enjoy going to my local Park Run for a 5k on a Saturday morning.

“My dad George and I often run together and he is a great support system. He gives me great advice in relation to my training and is always there when I need any reassurance,”

Joanne Wilson, Events Fundraiser at Meningitis Now, said: “We’d like to thank Rachel for this fantastic effort.

“We rely on the generosity, energy and initiative of our supporters to raise the vital funds we need to carry out our lifesaving and life-changing work.

“Her efforts will make a real difference to those who are at risk from meningitis and those whose lives have already been changed forever because of it.”

Meningitis Now is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.

It funds research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis, and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.

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