Since Charlie, as one of the four members of Commando Joe, chose Meningitis Trust as the main beneficiary of the 2006 Atlantic Ocean Rowing Challenge, the Meningitis Trust has merged with Meningitis UK to become Meningitis Now – the UK’s biggest meningitis charity.
It exists to save lives and rebuild futures by funding research, raising awareness and providing support. The charity puts people at the heart of everything it does. It is bold and brave, driving towards its vision with energy, commitment and determination.
The people it helps every day and the people who support it in return – people like you – are its inspiration and will continue to shape its work in the future.
Commando Joe eventually raised more than £250,000 for the Meningitis Trust. Why was it so close to their hearts?
On May 23 2003, the unimaginable happened to Pete Rowlands and his family. They received a call from their son Gareth’s boarding school, informing them of the tragic news that he had died, aged 16, after contracting meningitis. Gareth was immensely fit and had represented North Derbyshire at cross country, skippered the schools 2nd XV at rugby and during July and August 2002 toured South Africa with the school rugby team for three weeks. He had recently returned from a two-week skiing venture with the school at Easter 2003 and sat his AS Level Sports Studies exam the day before his death. He had definite plans to attend university on completion of his A-levels and lived life to the full. His only complaint on the day of his death had been a headache.
For Pete, his wife Helen and daughter Sian, the Meningitis Trust provided much-needed help and support – as it does for countless other families and individuals whose lives are affected by this disease. In raising funds for the Trust, Commando Joe provided them with much needed resources to allow them to continue not only this valuable element of its work, but also ongoing educational and research programmes.
Charlie says: The Meningitis Trust was the sole beneficiary of both the Commando Joe challenges, those in the Arctic and Atlantic. The four of us were committed to raising as much money as possible in memory of Gareth, but never in our wildest dreams did we expect the sum to be as high as it was. People were so moved by the tragic story, and inspired by the team’s commitment to leave a lasting legacy for Gareth.”