A record fund-raising effort in memory of Fylde youngster Edward Dee has been saluted as ‘a really special community achievement’ by a charity’s founder.
Steve Dayman, who established Meningitis Now following the death of his own infant son in 1982, travelled to Lytham to personally accept a £15,000 cheque as the proceeds of the latest Lytham St Annes Lions swimarathon.
It was the most successful in the 32-year history of the event, with more than 500 swimmers taking part to provide the biggest single boost yet to the Edward Dee Forever Fund for Meningitis Now.
The cash raised through sponsorship has taken the fund in the name of Edward (inset), who died of meningitis aged 10 in December 2016, over £88,000 little more than a year after it was established by the Dee family,
Steve said: “I had to be there to say thanks to everyone for their wonderful efforts.
“The total raised at the swimarathon was magnificent and well done to all involved in this marvellous event and especially to Edward’s mum Elizabeth and the family for their determination and dedication in raising so much cash.
“I said to Elizabeth that it is the ‘Edward Effect’ – he was clearly such a part of the local community, involved in so much and so well thought of, that he has inspired such a marvellous reaction from the local community.
“The amount raised by the Lions is a really special community achievement and the total raised so far in Edward’s name is really quite magnificent.
“Our charity relies entirely on such support to help fund research with the ultimate aim of eradicating the disease.
“This is an outstanding example of the community backing which is so important to us and we are so grateful to everyone for their support for Elizabeth and the family’s efforts.”
The presentation event at Lytham’s St Cuthbert’s Victory Hall, attended by Fylde mayor Coun John Singleton and deputy mayor Coun Ray Thomas, saw prizes handed out to the leading performers in the swimarathon, which was held at St Annes YMCA Pool in January.
The awards included for the first time medals for competitors, sponsored by Lytham optometrists GR Hardwick, and Elizabeth, who attended the event with husband Justin and sons William and Oliver, was presented with a medal of her own, specially engraved with Edward’s name.
“What a truly lovely afternoon,” she said. “It was wonderful to see the hall packed with people coming to collect their awards as well as just there supporting the charity and Edward.
“Our thanks to everyone for their incredible support with the swim and the fundraising and the Lions for their hard work and organisation, and for choosing this as the charity to support.
“The amount raised at the swimarathon was incredible, as was the atmosphere at the event itself.
“I was really touched that the Lions gave me one of the medals as a keepsake, in a beautiful presentation box and engraved in honour of Edward. That was really special.”
Along with the £15,000 to Mr Dayman on behalf of Meningitis Now, Lions president Roger Franklin handed over a cheque for £500 for the mayoral charities to Coun Singleton..
The mayor said afterwards: “It was wonderful to be invited to such a special event and congratulations to everyone on their efforts.”
Mr Franklin said: “The sum raised by all teams, sponsors, supporters and local businesses is quite incredible.
Meanwhile, the fund-raising in Edward’s name goes on and on Easter Saturday, Elizabeth and volunteers will be at the Cooperative store in Ansdell raising awareness of meningitis.
A number of other events are planned, notably a tea party at the Monterey Beach Hotel, St Annes on Sunday, April 15, which would have been Edward’s 12th birthday.