A heartbroken Sheffield dad who lost his little girl to meningitis has spoken out in her memory to boost awareness of the disease.
Daniel Foster says his beloved daughter Gracie, aged four, has spurred him on to raise awareness and funds for good causes after her death.
The 35-year-old chef, of Broomhill, said: “She was amazing. She was a lively, kind girl. I’ve been spurred on by Gracie – she will always be in my mind.
“She thought she was a teenager already and she was quite bossy. She was obsessed with Frozen and she loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Raphael was her favourite. She was crackers.”
Gracie, a pupil at Lenthall primary school in Dronfield, had been booked into Chesterfield Royal Hospital to have her tonsils removed on the day she died – but the operation was cancelled as she was sick and she was sent home.
Daniel, who is separated from Gracie’s mother, had spoken to his little girl on the phone that October morning.
He said: “She was bright and cheery, she was excited because I was going to stay with her in hospital overnight. She seemed fine.”
But just hours later, Gracie was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital as she was struggling to breathe.
He said: “When I met her and her mum outside the hospital, she could barely breathe. She had a temperature and it was shocking how hot she was – but you never think the worst.
“She had complained her throat was hurting and she was sleepy but we were told it was tonsillitis.
“There was no rash – it didn’t come out until about two or three hours before she died and she was already at the hospital.”
Doctors told Gracie’s parents she had meningitis and put her in intensive care – but they were unable to save her and she died just hours later.
Daniel, who works at The York pub in Broomhill, said he wants to urge parents to look out for the other symptoms of meningitis – as Gracie’s rash did not appear until it was too late.
He is also supporting a petition calling for free meningitis B vaccinations to be rolled out to all children up to the age of 11 - not just those aged between two and five months old.
The online petition, named ‘Give the Meningitis B vaccine to all children, not just newborn babies,’ has been signed by more than 800,000 people.
In Gracie’s case, she had received the meningitis C jab, but not the B vaccine.
As a message to other parents, he said: “The government needs to step up but just go and do it if you can, even if you have to pay. It is a potentially fatal illness. Don’t think it won’t happen to you, it can happen to anyone.”
Daniel is now raising funds for Meningitis Now, a charity which helped him to cope after Gracie’s death, by taking on the Yorkshire Three peaks Challenge and the UK Three Peaks Challenge with weeks of each other.
He said: “They were so helpful after Gracie died, I had someone to talk to. Losing a child can change your whole perspective on life.
“It is devastating. It was just so quick. I want to stop other parents going through what we went through.”
Donate to Daniel’s fundraising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DanielFoster6