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Virtual Christmas market and raffle raising money for six-year-old Stortford boy Mason Montague who lost part of three of his limbs after suffering meningococcal septicaemia




Four years ago, Abi Baxter-Huggett met an exceptional Bishop's Stortford toddler and his devoted family while she was at her own sick baby's bedside in a London hospital.

Mason Montague, now six-and-a-half, contracted meningococcal septicaemia in December 2016 and was rushed to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

Three weeks later, on Christmas Eve, he underwent multiple amputations to save his life during a gruelling six-hour surgery at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Mason Montague contracted meningococcal septicaemia in December 2016 and was rushed to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington
Mason Montague contracted meningococcal septicaemia in December 2016 and was rushed to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington

His family were told surgeons might need to remove all four of Mason's limbs, but they were able to save his right arm. The surgeons amputated just below his elbow on his left arm and managed to save some thigh on both legs.

The family have since set up the Friends of Mason Montague Society (FOMMS) to raise money for his future and for prosthetics. They also want to raise awareness of the deadly infection that almost claimed his life.

Takeley mother-of-two Abi is trying to raise funds for FOMMS by launching a virtual Christmas market and organising a live-streamed raffle.

On Christmas Eve 2016, he underwent multiple amputations to save his life during a gruelling six-hour surgery at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford
On Christmas Eve 2016, he underwent multiple amputations to save his life during a gruelling six-hour surgery at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford

Her younger son, Reggie, has an immune disorder. "Basically, my son was at five weeks intubated at Harlow and rushed to St Mary's in London," said Abi, 40. "Mason was rushed into the bed next to Reggie."

She witnessed the fight to save Mason and was amazed how close to home it was. "We live in Takeley and they live in Stortford. It was crazy," she said.

"When you're in intensive care, you pull together like a family. In that time you become very close. It's a horrible, horrible place to be, but through supporting each other you come through it."

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and his condition, Reggie is unable to attend nursery, but a new family arrival – border collie/cocker spaniel puppy Hugo – has provided him with a playmate. Older brother Harry, 7, attends Takeley Primary School. Leo the family cat is still making up his mind about the excitable newcomer.

Surgeons were able to save Mason's right arm but had to amputate just below his elbow on his left arm and managed to save some thigh on both legs
Surgeons were able to save Mason's right arm but had to amputate just below his elbow on his left arm and managed to save some thigh on both legs

Abi, who works as an ambassador for skincare company Tropic, had hoped to organise a charity ball in aid of FOMMS, but the Covid-19 crisis has prevented this from happening. Husband Colin, who works in event security, has seen 57 events such as exhibitions and festivals cancelled this year for this very reason.

Instead, Abi set up a Facebook group, Takeley/Stortford/Dunmow Virtual Christmas Market, and invited businesses to make a £5 donation in exchange for a virtual stall.

She is also selling raffle tickets at £5 a strip and plans to hold a live raffle next Tuesday (Dec 22). Prizes include beauty vouchers, a photo shoot and afternoon tea.

So far, Abi has raised £1,000 for FOMMS. You can add to her total by buying tickets via the Christmas market Facebook page or by emailing Abi via cleanlivingwithabi@icloud.com. To make a direct donation to FOMMS, click here.

Meningococcal septicaemia

  • Meningitis is inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord – the meninges. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by the same germs and is the more life-threatening form of the disease.
  • Meningitis can cause permanent neurological damage, ranging from minor problems with co-ordination and movement or mild learning difficulties to epilepsy, paralysis, palsy and severe mental impairment. Deafness is the most frequent severe after-effect of meningitis. Scarring, amputation and organ damage can result from septicaemia.
  • The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.
  • If you are seriously worried about someone who is ill, don’t wait for a rash to appear – get medical help. But if they are already ill and get a new rash or spots, use the Tumbler Test by pressing a clear glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the marks clearly through the glass, seek urgent medical help immediately.
  • For further information, click here.


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