Sister of teenager killed by meningitis writes letter to disease

Undated handout photo issued by Meningitis Now of George Zographou
Undated handout photo issued by Meningitis Now of George Zographou

The sister of a teenager who died suddenly from meningitis after being taken ill at a music festival has written about her family's devastation in a letter addressed to the killer infection.

Bristol sixth form student George Zographou, 18, died in hospital on August 16, days after he collapsed at the Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Cornwall.

Undated handout photo issued by Meningitis Now of George Zographou, with his sister Nicole, who died suddenly from meningitis after being taken ill at Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Cornwall.

Undated handout photo issued by Meningitis Now of George Zographou, with his sister Nicole, who died suddenly from meningitis after being taken ill at Boardmasters Festival in Newquay, Cornwall.

In her letter addressed to meningitis B, George's sister Nicole explained how quickly the disease killed her younger brother, taking away their future together.

Miss Zographou, 29, explained she wrote A Letter to Meningitis B to raise awareness and urge people to get the meningitis ACWY and meningitis B vaccines.

"If you're someone reading my letter to Men B then maybe you are someone, who once like me, didn't know about this illness and thought sympathetically, 'poor people', and 'this will never happen to me'," she said.

"Yet it did happen to me, to my family and most sadly to my 18-year-old brother George."

In her letter, she wrote:

'Dear Meningitis B,

You took my brother George away. You took him away very quickly, you took him away in pain and you took his future away. You took him so cruelly.

However, you took so much more from me that day than just my baby brother. You have taken away my family, particularly my parents, our freedom and our trust. I have lost, hopefully temporarily, my hope and belief in the world. Nothing makes sense anymore and the joy from my life has diminished.

I am constantly looking for him. Every day I scream for him - I ask you, where is he? Where have you taken him? Is he okay where he is? Did he know what was happening to him when you took him from us? You cause me to replay images every day and ask myself why didn't I protect him, why didn't I question his symptoms more?

I will never know the answers to these questions. I can only hope for the best. However, what I do know is I will never be an aunty. I will never grow old with my Brother. My parents will never be the same. George won't be physically alongside me anymore, and for me I am left alone as the sibling left behind.

You have caused me to feel guilt, loneliness and depression. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders; someone who has lost all control, but needs to find it desperately. You have changed every aspect of me and what's around me. Bacterial Meningitis you have caused such pain that when I access that sadness, it's a place so dark that I don't want to go there, a place I never feel I will get out of. At times, I feel I have been avalanched into a hole with no ladder.

You took my future with my brother and I aim to take yours. I aim to eradicate you. My life is now dedicated to my love for George, and my hate for you. The government does not take you seriously enough, but they will. Apparently, you do not affect enough lives to justify a spend in the health budget - yet you are deadly, and are the most common strain of Meningitis ruining many lives.

I will endeavour to give my brother justice and do him proud. This is not the end and it's time for you to go.

This utter tragedy could leave us all so bitter and twisted. However, George always saw the best in people. So, inspired by George's attributes; how kind, funny and non-judgemental he was, I have decided I am not going to move forward in anger, but instead, just like he would, I am going to let love win.

You have taken so much from me, but what you cannot take from me is that, I was, and I still am George's sister. What you cannot take from me is my love and my memories I have of George. Now, supported by others who walk alongside me, I stand tall in the fire within.

Nicole Zographou'.

The letter has been published by the Meningitis Now campaign.