Swimmer teen dies just seven hours after contracting meningitis


A SPORTY 13-year-old boy was killed by meningitis within seven hours of taking ill.

Keen swimmer Gregor Smith collapsed at his home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on Sunday teatime and was rushed into hospital.

In a heartbreaking series of tweets, his elder sister prayed for him to pull through.

Gregor died just seven hours after contracting meningitis
Gregor died just seven hours after contracting meningitis


But she tweeted at midnight: “The first time me and my brother have ever been separated. I didn’t think I’d be looking at him dead – all happened too quick.”

The KirkcaldyHigh School pupil was a keen member of a local swimming club and spent hours each week training with the squad.

His sister, Rachel, together with parents Jenny and George, accompanied Gregor to the town’s VictoriaHospital early on Sunday evening.

At 8pm, as doctors battled to save Gregor, Rachel tweeted: “Meningitis is such a horrible thing, praying my little brother is okay and he gets through this. Stay strong wee man.”

Rachel then revealed how quickly the disease took her brother’s life.

On Monday morning she wrote: “Only took 7 hours from my brother being okay then his heart to stop working.”

She later added: “If there was a god he would have never let this happen. Gregor was the best boy I knew and always will be.”

After revealing his death, Rachel added: “Hoping I fall asleep and wake up and this has all been a dream, lost everything and more.”

She added: “If there was a god he would have never let this happen. Gregor was the best boy I knew and always will be.

“Used to be me and Gregor against the world now everything’s been taken away from me. Can’t begin to imagine life without my boy.

“Honestly don’t know what to do – can’t live without my brother.”

Gregor’s funeral will be held on Wednesday next week.

Rachel broke the news her brother died just hours after hoping he'd pull through
Rachel broke the news her brother died just hours after hoping he’d pull through

Friends of Gregor also shared moving tributes on Twitter following his sudden death.

Ailsa Watson wrote: “Can’t believe such a young boy has been taken. Thoughts are with the Smith family! RIP Gregor, sleep tight little one.”

Aidan Martin posted: “R.I.P Gregor only a young boy at 13 years old, thoughts are with theSmith family.”

The Scottish Swimming group said: “All at Scottish Swimming send their sympathy and condolences to the family of Gregor Smith. Thinking of you at this sad time x”

Friend Greg Mutch wrote: “Still can’t believe Gregor’s gone. Just yesterday I was with him. Rip.”

And another friend known as Jameh added: “Take a look at your little brother or sister and tell them you love them, because tomorrow you might not get that chance.”

Graham Irvine, senior coach at The Fins swimming group, said: “Gregor had been at the club as long as I can remember – he had been a junior squad member for the last two years.

“He will be greatly missed by his peers within the squad as they spend considerable time with each other training and become more like family than friends.

“His confidence and cheeky ways will be how I remember him most as we come together as a club to try and come to terms with the pain and unfairness of his passing.”

KirkcaldyHigh School rector Derek Allan also paid tribue, saying: “Our thoughts are with his family and many friends during this very difficult time.

“Gregor was a popular pupil, well known and liked by staff and pupils – he will be a huge loss to us all.

“We have set aside quiet space in the school for pupils and staff who are being comforted by our own staff and a council support team.”



Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord known as the meninges.

It is understood Gregor died from the meningococcal strain of meningitis.

Around 10% of people carry meningococcal bacteria harmlessly in the back of the throat and nearly everyone develops an immunity as a result of carrying these germs.

Bacteria can be passed on by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing.

But in some cases the bacteria breaks through the lining of the back of the throat and enters the bloodstream – the germs then rapidly multiply and can double in number every 30 minutes.

Symptoms of the disease include fever with cold hands and feet, red spots that do not disappear when a glass is pressed against them, rapid breathing, muscle pain and severe stomach pain.

Despite the family receiving medical assistance as a precaution, NHS bosses said the chance of catching the disease is very small but are advised people to seek help if they have concerns.

Public health consultant Dr Neil Hamlet said: “People should seek urgent medical help if they suspect they or one of their family are ill with the meningococcal infction.”