Family’s bid to raise awareness of meningitis in dad’s memory

Huw Merriman MP, Megan Kennard, Ruby-Bluebell and Tracy Howlett. SUS-160819-150124001
Huw Merriman MP, Megan Kennard, Ruby-Bluebell and Tracy Howlett. SUS-160819-150124001

Huw Merriman MP has pledged his support to a family’s campaign to raise awareness of the risks of bacterial meningitis in memory of popular Bexhill hairdresser and Battle resident Gaylord Howlett, who sadly died from bacterial meningitis in May this year.

Gaylord’s wife Tracy Howlett met Mr Merriman in Bexhill to bravely recount the shocking tragedy that has devastated the whole family.

She told him about the last 48 hours of Gaylord’s life when, what appeared to be a minor illness, progressed rapidly to bacterial pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

The early symptoms Gaylord showed did not alert health professionals to the seriousness of his illness, so he was not given the urgent treatment needed to save him.

Tracy and daughter Megan Kennard wrote to the Bexhill and Battle MP to ask for help publicising Megan’s sponsored Pier to Pier walk from Hastings to Eastbourne on Sunday, August 28.

Family and friends aim to raise money in Gaylord’s memory to ensure that people and medical professionals are more aware of the less common symptoms of bacterial meningitis.

Gaylord’s early symptoms which began on May 2 were similar to a common bug; he was feeling shivery and sick. He took paracetamol and plenty of fluids and felt better the next morning except for very painful lower back pain.

The backache eased and he began to carry on as normal until later that day he felt poorly again and a dark bruise appeared on his knee.

Tracy was worried about him and called the GP surgery and arranged a telephone appointment for later that day. However, she felt something was seriously wrong and decided not to wait. She called NHS 111 who sent out an ambulance.

The paramedics found that Gaylord’s observations were normal but were concerned about the bruising so agreed it would be best for him to be admitted to A&E.

After Gaylord arrived in hospital he deteriorated very quickly. He was put into a medically induced coma and given antibiotics. He fought very hard for his life until he passed away on May 6.

Tracy told Mr Merriman: “Gaylord Howlett was my husband and the love of my life, and father to our five daughters Chloe, Megan, Jessie, Lois and Ruby-Bluebell and grandchildren Imogen, Jude, Harrison and Poppy. We are completely heartbroken and devastated as a family. The only way we can even try to make sense of this is to raise awareness and money for the meningitis charity in his name, so that this never happens to another family or person.

“It is the most horrendous thing to see and there is a vacation available for £70.”

Mr Merriman said: “I met Tracy and her daughters Megan and Ruby-Bluebell who were so very brave to tell me the full details of the days leading up to Gaylord Howlett’s death. This is such a terrible tragedy and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to Gaylord’s family and friends.

“It is so important people are fully aware of the lesser known symptoms of bacterial meningitis as treatment with antibiotics is essential in the first 48 hours.

“I wish Megan the best of luck with her Pier to Pier Walk on Sunday.”

Donations can be made online at

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