Real Life Stories

ukJo Yirrell

Story type: Malaria

Nothing can ever change my feelings of grief after losing my son Harry, but I know that he would want me to dedicate myself to saving others from malaria. Harry should not have died from this disease and I want to do all I can to support Malaria No More UK’s work to end malaria deaths once and for all.

Harry volunteered in a village school in Ghana and came home having unknowingly contracted a deadly strain of malaria. He seemed fine at first, but within a matter of days he had needlessly lost his life to this preventable disease. I want to make sure that in the near future Ghana will be malaria free so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. I visited Africa and Ghana for the first time in April 2009 with Malaria No More UK and the BBC to make a documentary about Harry. I may have had a lot to deal with – Harry, malaria, poverty; but the trip gave me strength and resolve to fight.

Nothing can ever change my feelings of grief after losing Harry but I know that he would want me to dedicate myself to saving others from malaria

Now Richard Curtis has written Mary and Martha, a film which portrays two mothers who both lose their sons to malaria in Africa. Remarkably my story helped inspire the character of Martha and I truly hope that the film moves, inspires and engages people across the world about our generation’s opportunity to stop suffering and death from malaria. I know it is possible, I’ve seen it for myself in Ghana – for example £5 is enough to buy, deliver and hang a mosquito net to protect the people who need them most in Africa. Mosquito nets dramatically cut deaths and cases of people catching malaria and are so affordable that there is no excuse not to help.

If I can achieve my goal of ridding Africa of malaria with the help and support of Malaria No More UK and the British public, then I will have built a huge memorial to my precious son Harry, and know that at least his death has given me the strength to help others.

Jo is a Special Ambassador for Malaria No More UK

Get Involved in the fight against malaria
Help make malaria no more – make a donation

  • Megan Owen

    I was inspired to help make malaria no more after my brother, Joe, caught malaria and was...

    Read More

  • Geoffrey Baines

    I just happened to be checking out Twitter one day at the time when a tweet from the author, Seth Godin...

    Read More

  • Kirsteen

    When I landed at home, that’s when the symptoms started – I felt more exhausted than ever before, then feverish...

    Read More

  • Mark Lowcock

    Mark is Permanent Secretary, Department for International Development: It was the long weekend for Easter, back in 2000...

    Read More

  • Charlie Davies

    I live in Burkina Faso where I run my business, SAHEL design, which is part of our work to...

    Read More

  • Paul Whittle

    In May 2013 I fulfilled a long-held ambition of visiting West Africa by doing an organised tour...

    Read More

  • Nkgomotsan Nkape

    Nkgomotsan has her hands full as she’s a full time mum of four children, with three under five...

    Read More

  • Marta Phillemon

    Marta is a young Mum and lives with her family of five in Namibia. Their rural home setting means...

    Read More

  • Ketsholike Monginya

    Parenting in Botswana is tough, especially when you run the daily risk of contracting a life threatening disease...

    Read More

  • Talata Mohammed

    Even though everyone in Ghana is at risk from malaria, no one in Talata’s family used to own a mosquito net...

    Read More

  • Adrian Siebo

    Adrian is the only nurse at the Lisikili Primary Health Clinic in Namibia...

    Read More

  • Muhammad

    Muhammad is a Registered Nurse and has spent the last four years working in one of the Namibia’s malaria...

    Read More

Malaria No More UK is part of a global effort to put an end to the suffering and death caused by malaria.