Little Joshua’s memory is a true marathon motivator

Joshua Ryan Bates
Joshua Ryan Bates
Share this article

A tragic tot from Leyland touched the heart of a marathon runner as he raised vital funds for menigitis research.

Dan Birtles, 33, from Urmston, completed the gruelling London marathon in aid of the Meningitis Research Foundation.

London Marathon runner Dan Birtles

London Marathon runner Dan Birtles

Dan ran for the foundation after surviving meningitis as a child, and having friends whose baby sadly could not be saved from the disease.

Dan explained: “I had meningitis myself when I was six years old.

“Luckily I survived the disease but unfortunately this is not the outcome for everyone.

“I ran the marathon in support of Phil and Anne-Marie Bates, from Leyland, who tragically lost their son Joshua Ryan Bates in December last year.

“Joshua was just seven-months-old.

“He was rushed into Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital on a Sunday and was quickly diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis.

“Even though he fought hard for his life, he lost his fight on the Wednesday. He passed away and found his new home in heaven.

“Whilst I have no idea what Phil, Anne-Marie, and their two sons Ethan, six, and George, four, are going through, and the effect this disease has had on their family, I hope by fundraising it brings them some strength in their journey as they get used to life without Joshua.

“I’ve always enjoyed sport but running is not my thing and the marathon is the biggest challenge I’ve ever tackled. I managed to get round in four hours forty five minutes. It was amazing, we’re just shy of £3,000 raised now.”

Youn can sponsor Dan at his fundraising page at:

Vinny Smith, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said, “We are really grateful to Dan for taking on this huge challenge to help raise funds for MRF. Meningitis and septicaemia can strike quickly, sometimes killing in hours, and leaving some survivors with life-changing after effects.

“The money raised will enable us to fund vital scientific research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis, raise awareness of the disease and support those affected.”

The first symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion. People who are ill with meningitis and septicaemia can deteriorate rapidly and not everyone gets all of these symptoms.