A THURROCK family and their friends and relations will be having a splashing time this weekend as they honour the memory of a tragic mum and raise funds to battle the disease that claimed her life.
It is a year ago this weekend that Stifford Clays-born Vikki Cordina, 43, was struck down by the first symptoms of meningitis – and within days she was dead, leaving a heartbroken husband, a six-year-old bewildered daughter and a devastated family.
But even in death Vikki, praised by her sister Zoe Thomas for her love of life and caring and generous nature, ensured life would carry on. Her organs were donated and Vikki saved three lives the day hers was taken!
Zoe, 33, who still lives in Thurrock where she too was born, takes up the story of what happened to her sister, saying: “The weekend of 12 August 2017 started like so many summer weekends before. Vikki had complained of an earache from the Thursday but didn’t make much of it. On the Friday night Vikki and her husband Mark went out for a drink, which led to a few. True to her fun loving nature they had an amazing night, bouncing off of one another as they always did and Vikki had her fellow drinkers in stitches.
“On the Sunday Vikki and I went to the Medway where the family has a boat, with her Amelia and my daughter Elise. Before we went Vikki said that she had an awful earache and I suggested we postpone, but Vikki’s zest for life prevailed and she said she’d be fine. We sat on the back of the boat, crying with laughter and had the most amazing night
“During the evening Vikki had complained of earache and a pain in her head, which she dismissed and said would be ok and would not spoil her night. In the morning we had planned to take Elise and Amelia to Teapot Island for breakfast and then take the boat out. Vikki said she didn’t feel well enough to take them for breakfast and wanted to stay on the boat. When we returned she said she just wanted to lay down.
“By the afternoon she was no better and called her husband Mark to collect her. Mark arrived late afternoon and took her home. Amelia wanted to stay and Mark and I agreed that it would probably be best if Vikki wasn’t well. When Mark and Vikki left that Marina not for one second did any of us consider that it would be the last time Amelia, at six, would see her mummy.
“On the Tuesday I tried to call Vikki and after getting no answer I called Mark. He said that she was asleep when he left but had said that she was going to the doctors. She called me back later and said that she’d been to the doctors and the chemists and wanted to sleep. As with Amelia, I had no idea at I would never speak to her again.
“On the Wednesday morning Vikki woke Mark at 5am, asking him to call an ambulance. The paramedics arrived and the first were dismissive of how serious it was.
“Thankfully another saw some critical symptoms and rushed her to hospital. Mark could only watch as Vikki went from being completely coherent at home to delirious at the hospital.
“Mark called early on Wednesday morning to say they were at the hospital and Vikki had suspected meningitis and were looking at transferring her very shortly, where we agreed to meet. After a few tearful phone calls and updates I received the most awful telephone call I could possibly imagine and without a doubt the worst Mark would have to make. When Mark’s voice failed him I knew what he was going to say, we needed to be there immediately. The drive over with my parents was the longest drive imaginable and we prayed we’d be there in time.
“When we arrived Mark and his mum were distraught. We all sat in complete shock and disbelief that this could be happening or even possible. They’d put Vikki in an induced coma and all we could do was sit and wait, hoping for a miracle. There was a glimmer of hope when Vikki was taken for surgery to the brain in the hopes that it would reduce the swelling.
“The wait was agonising but the surgeon seemed to have hope and we clung to that dearly. A blur of tests followed and by Friday we were due to receive an update. There was no response. Nothing they could do. We had to turn off the life support and say our goodbyes. The devastation felt in that room was deafening.
“How could Amelia not have a mummy; be deprived of a final kiss or cuddle? How on earth would Mark tell her mummy wasn’t coming home? Heartbreaking doesn’t come close.
“However even in the darkest moment of our lives, Vikki’s love of life and her caring and generous nature shone through. They asked us if we were happy for Vikki’s organs to be donated, and knowing her wishes it was a unanimous yes.
“Now it’s our turn to do her proud and save more lives.
“Vikki and I used to paddle down the River Medway each year while Vikki worked at Medway Bridge Marina for various charities. This year Mark and I would like to complete the paddle with our family and friends in memory of Vikki and to raise much needed awareness and money for meningitis. Our aim is to fight back against Meningitis. If one person can be saved through raising awareness then we will all find some comfort.
“Vikki was the most amazing person you could wish to meet and for those that had the privilege of being her family or her friend were very honoured, she will never be forgotten. She’s mentioned every day and even in her absence can make everyone laugh hysterically with her stories – funny isn’t always nice but funny is always funny.”
This weekend around 50 people will join Zoe, Mark and their children on a commemorative paddle on the Medway. You can support their efforts by donating on Zoe’s fundraising page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zoe-thomas18
And to find out more about meningitis, visit www.meningitisorg/meningitis/check-symptoms. “Please, please do that,” says Zoe. “Awareness is key to fighting back.”