The father of a baby girl who tragically died from meningitis has backed potentially life-saving calls for teenagers to get vaccinated.
Russ Fisher was speaking days after the third annual Manifold Valley charity trek in memory of daughter Rubie, who died aged just six weeks.
He is speaking out to back a Meningitis Research Foundation campaign launched in the wake of a report suggesting a lack of awareness is putting teens "at risk".
Published during Meningitis Awareness Week last week, the findings showed nearly one in three young people incorrectly thought meningitis was not contagious. And only roughly the same proportion of 2016 school leavers took up a vaccine with their GP.
Although babies and young children are in the age group most threatened by meningitis and septicemia, teenagers and young adults are the next-most-at-risk.
Now Russ, 39, is echoing the foundation's plea for those aged 14 to 18 - and particularly those starting uni - to have the potentially life-saving jab.
The Uttoxeter man said: "A lot of people seem to think it only affects children, but I think it's really important to publicise that teenagers are particularly at risk too.
"Getting vaccinated when you're a teenager is so important and the vaccinations for students are now proven to be working.
"There are beer mats with signs and symptoms written on them at some uni campuses, which is a great idea as students do tend to spend a lot of time in their students' union bars.
"But it can be so tough to spot the signs, as we know all too well. Rubie had none and you hear of people going into hospital with flu-like symptoms and never coming out.
"Going on my own experience, I think a lot of teenagers don’t like the idea of injections and worry about vaccinations making them ill for days on end. They don’t seem to realise they could save their lives.
"Students can be a bit blasé about these kind of things and are fixated on their uni lives – finding a place, getting into their course, making friends and having a good time. But they really should take the time to do this as it’s so simple and doesn't take long."
Caretaker Russ and wife Kerry, a 39-year-old pharmacist, lost little Rubie in 2015. Since then, they have raised around £16,000 - as well as lots of awareness - for charity Meningitis Now. Their latest charity walk - a 17-mile fancy dress trek through the Manifold Valley - will bolster that figure further.
The Westlands Road couple, dressed as a racing driver and a traffic cone, were joined by five-year-old son Alfie and 14-month-old daughter Sofie on Saturday, September 23.
Russ said: "We had about 50 people for the walk, including Sofie and Alfie. Sofie's 14 months and there were people there in their 70s, so it was great to see such a wide age range. There were familiar faces and some new people who hadn't been before. It was great fun and we have a fancy dress competition too.
"Some of the mums from Picknalls, where Alfie goes to school, were only planning on doing a couple of miles but ended up doing all 17.
"I've got no idea how much we've raised yet, but I think it's going to be a good total again. This is the third walk we've done and people ask me whether it gets any easier – it doesn't.
"It's always a very emotional day and very draining, physically and mentally, even though it’s good fun as well. And after it’s finished it's always particularly difficult. You've given so much to organise it and put everything into it, then it's over and you’re wondering what to do next.
"You're left with the reality of having lost Rubie. But we’ll now be looking for the next thing to help raise awareness and money for this amazing charity."