A big splash in Kate’s memory

Stephen Sutcliffe, 40, who's swimming for Meningitis Trust.'DW Sports pool, Halifax
Stephen Sutcliffe, 40, who's swimming for Meningitis Trust.'DW Sports pool, Halifax

THE tragic death of Brighouse schoolgirl Kate Lever from meningitis 30 years ago had a huge impact on all who knew her.

The lively, sporty 12-year-old died in November 1982 just hours after being taken ill at home, leaving her family and many friends in a state of shock. Now one of those friends, Steve Sutcliffe, is taking on a gruelling swimming challenge in memory of Kate and to fund continuing research into the condition which led to her untimely death.

Kate and Steve both attended Bailiff Bridge School together and were members of Brighouse Swimming Club. Kate was in her first year at Brighouse Girls’ Grammar School when she died and Steve was a student at Hipperholme Grammar School.

“Those who knew Kate have very dear and fond memories of her,” said Steve who lives in Lightcliffe. “We were a very close-knit community and the news that such a young, healthy girl had died so quickly was devastating. Not so much was known about meningitis at the time and it was just a huge shock.”

Forty-year-old Steve is still friends with Kate’s sister Janette and is undertaking five charity swims with the Lever family’s blessing.

A finance director with the NHS in Oldham, he is in training for five British Gas Great British Swim events taking place this summer in aid of the Meningitis Trust. They will include a mile on the River Thames, two miles on Lake Windermere and one mile on Salford Quays.

“Last year I did the Salford Quays swim for Christie’s Hospital and I have raised money for the Meningitis Trust before. But this year I wanted to go all out and raise as much money as possible for a very good cause.”

To sponsor Steve log on www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Sutcliffe1