Baby Lily died in her dad's arms

PUBLISHED: 13:03 08 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:02 15 June 2010

AN East Devon grandmother, whose four-month-old granddaughter died from meningitis, wants to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the illness.

AN East Devon grandmother, whose four-month-old granddaughter died from meningitis, wants to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the illness. Linda Helliker was devastated when on Good Friday her son Philip, 37, a serving member of the 5th Battalion of the Rifles, telephoned from his Army quarters in Germany to say his beloved four-month-old daughter Lily Hollie had died in his arms.When Mrs Helliker learned the lively tot had died from Waterhouse Friderichsen syndrome - a severe form of meningitis - she vowed to raise funds to beat the disease and boost awareness of the symptoms to prevent other families going through the same heartache.Mrs Helliker has this year planned a number of events to raise money for the Meningitis Trust - an organisation which supports people affected by the illness."I became hysterical. It was just awful," said the mother-of-three. "She was always such a strong little girl."It was my day off and I missed the call so I rang back. Philip answered and he just groaned. He couldn't speak, then his wife, Sophie, took the phone and said 'I have got some sad news for you. We have lost Lily'."Baby Lily had been off-colour for several days - like many of her playmates - and only showed a slight rise in temperature. "She did not show any other symptoms related to meningitis - such as an aversion to bright lights, stiff or aching limbs, or a rash."Philip said he remembered saying 'you will be alright in the morning babe'. There were no symptoms of meningitis," said Mrs Helliker. "They gave her Calpol and kept an eye on her. She was smiling and cooing."In the early hours of the morning Philip changed her and fed her, then handed her to Sophie - who remarked there was a little mark on her forehead."Philip said 'get the ambulance'. He picked her up and by the time Sophie had got to the bottom of the stairs Lily Hollie had passed away in his arms."To help ease the family's grief, Mrs Helliker and her husband, Richard, 58, have organised a sponsored walk on Sunday, August 3, leaving from Exmouth docks at 3pm to Sandy Bay via the cliff path.In the autumn Lily Hollie's grandmother will hold an evening of entertainment in her granddaughter's name.A Meningitis Trust spokeswoman said: "With no government funding, we are reliant on voluntary donations from individuals and organisations to continue our vital work. "We greatly appreciate any help with our fundraising, so are extremely grateful to Mrs Helliker and her family and friends for their generous support."For more information call The Meningitis Trust freephone 24-hour helpline on 0800 028 18 or visit www.meningitis-trust.orgTo sponsor the Hellikers contact Linda on (01395) 272264.

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