A Buckie man took a bracing dip in Cullen Bay yesterday and counted the experience as five down and ten to go.
For Michael Parkes the swim was another means to an end – one of 15 challenges he has set himself to celebrate his continued survival 15 years after being diagnosed with meningitis.
His aim is to raise a total of £1500 from the challenges on behalf of the Meningitis Research Foundation – but with five completed he is already on the verge of achieving that goal with his efforts having reached over £1300 this morning.
“Sunday 22 August 1999 was the worst day of my life,” Michael said, adding: “A little over two weeks before I turned 19, I was rushed to hospital with meningococcal septicaemia.
“I initially thought it was a hangover from the previous Friday night, which is a typical symptom. I was given a shot of penicillin that probably saved my life.
“The next few days in intensive care are mostly blank apart from a few visits from friends and family. When I woke up on the Wednesday, and the nurse asked me if I knew what day it was, I told her it was Wednesday and I had my driving test that day.
“It turns out the hospital staff had other ideas! I was released from hospital only eight days after being taken in. The main long-term effect has been that my short-term memory can be poor.”
Michael’s survival had the effect of his taking medical advice and “engaging his brain” – he graduated from University in 2007 and undertook media work on behalf of the meningitis charity, including a radio commercial and national poster campaign.
Then in October he took on the first of 15 challenges, the Aviemore Half Marathon – completing that in just over an hour and 45 minutes. He said: “My second challenge was a 10k run in Glasgow dressed as a member of a mariachi band – or a Doritos bloke if that makes more sense.”
Before leaving Glasgow to head back to Moray he organised challenge number three – a full scale football match at Toryglen with a post-match raffle and food.
A curry-eating challenge followed before the dip in Cullen Bay – and next on the agenda is the biggest challenge so far, Michael having won a coveted starting place in the London Marathon in April.
While raising funds is important Michael said it is vital that his efforts helps raise awareness of meningitis and septicaemia, an illness that is suffered by 3200 people every year.
Of these who contract the illness one in ten die while many others are left with life-altering after effects.
Further information on Michael’s efforts can be found on his Just Giving fundraising page.