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UK University student, Igboanugo, dies of suspected Meningitis in Italy
John Igboanugo

UK University student, Igboanugo, dies of suspected Meningitis in Italy

A “humble but fantastic” student has died of suspected meningitis on a sports trip to Italy

John Igboanugo, a first-year undergraduate physics student at the University of Surrey, was on a trip with the university’s American football team,  Surrey Stingers, when he died on Thursday.

Italian authorities have told the university that he died of a suspected bout of meningitis but the cause of death is still being treated as “unexplained”.

His team announced the death on Facebook as they returned to the UK, saying: “He was an unbelievably humble guy who was so loving and inspired many Stingers.

“He was a talented guy who had his life taken away too early. You have brought happiness to those from your home and at University of Surrey and are forever in our hearts. Forever part of the Stingers family.”

Mr Igboanugo’s mother Elaine, and father, also named John, were said to be “devastated and heartbroken” at their son’s death.

Friends said they have now flown to Italy to bring his body home and find out the circumstances of his death.

Pamela Lashbrook, who has lived next door to the family in Feltham for 17 years, said: “I spoke to his mother and she was utterly devastated, heartbroken and shocked.

“She asked me to look after the house because they had to go to Italy quickly. She did not know exactly what had happened she said, but meningitis was mentioned. They have lost their only son I am so sad for them. We will do anything we can to help.”

She said that John had been “a fine sporty young man” who had three sisters.

She added: “I saw him before he went away on the trip and he was his usual cheery self. He was always upbeat and was obviously looking forward to the trip. He was always at the gym and you couldn’t get a nicer, kinder lad. We just can’t believe what has happened. He was a fit, healthy young man.”

Mrs Lashbrook’s husband Douglas said: “John was a fantastic boy, no one ever had a bad word to say about him. We are all very upset for the family who we have known for a long time.”

Friends also paid tribute to him.

Sam Magee, a former team-mate at Grasshoppers Rugby club in Isleworth, said: “John was remarkable. He was idolised, respected and loved immensely by everyone. I will never come to terms with losing him.

“I’ve had the honour of sharing the rugby pitch hundreds of times with the most naturally gifted individual one could come across. Despite his talents, he never lost his respectful attitude and somehow managed to stay truly humble.”

Flatmate Diana Jugan, added: “I think all of our flat can agree you bound us together from day one with your outgoing and caring personality, first year of university will not have been the same without you.

“Even on a moderately gloomy day, you never failed to make [us] laugh or smile and I can’t thank you enough.

“There are no words to describe how painful this is but rest in peace. An incredible flatmate and an even more incredible human.”

His Physics classmates have launched a fundraiser with a target of £3,000 in the hope that a permanent memorial to Mr Igboanugo will be built on campus.

Paul Stephenson, Vice President of Human Resources at Surrey University sent an email to students warning them of the dangers of the infection, early symptoms of which include a fever, headache, vomiting and muscle pain.

He added: “The cause of John’s death remains unexplained, however we continue to work with Public Health England as there is a possibility that the cause may have been meningitis.”

Source: London Evening Standard

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