Kim Galvin remembers the moment, ten years ago, when she thought she was coming down with flu.

She had the classic symptoms - aching neck and shoulders and a throbbing headache - but within a few hours, she realised it was something far more serious.

Disorientated and unable to stand, she crawled along the corridor to her neighbour's flat to ask for help.

The 25-year-old had been struck down by the C strain of meningitis and, for six weeks, lay in a coma.

"It was touch and go. The doctors told my parents that I was probably going to die," she recalls.

Sitting in the kitchen of her home with her three-year-old daughter, Izzie, and baby son, Harry, Kim seems like any other new mum - tired but contented.

But when she stands to lift Harry out of his pram, she walks a little stiffly and when I look closely at her feet, encased in a pair of pretty flip-flops, I realise she has artificial legs. In order to save her life, doctors had to amputate both Kim's legs at the knee.

Although she didn't realise it, Kim's age meant she was in a high-risk group for meningitis.

She is now backing a campaign to raise awareness of the infection and encourage young adults between the ages of 20 and 25 to get vaccinated against meningitis C.

"I didn't really know about meningitis. As far as I was concerned, it was something that affected babies and when I became ill, I thought I had flu. What happened to me shows just how quickly it can take hold and how serious it can be."

Kim can only remember fragments but has pieced together her experiences from what others told her.

"My neighbour Nigel called a doctor who gave me some penicillin. He did say it could have been meningitis but wasn't sure and when Nigel asked whether he should stay with me, the doctor said he didn't need to so he went out to work."

Back in her own bed, Kim drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. When other neighbours called in on her that evening, they thought she was asleep. It wasn't until the next morning that Nigel returned and raised the alarm.

"The doctor had told him to look out for a rash. He hadn't known what to expect but when he saw me that morning, he knew it was meningitis. My face was all dark and he actually woke me up to ask if I was wearing a face pack, which, of course, I wasn't."

The rash was a result of blood leaking out under the skin, a sign that septicaemia had set in, and Kim's face is still mottled with tiny scars.

"I remember the ambulance arriving and the paramedics getting out a stretcher. I thought: 'I must be really ill if they need a stretcher.' But I still didn't think I had a life-threatening illness."

Kim was taken to hospital where doctors discovered her kidneys and lungs had failed and her heart was beating erratically.

Her parents were summoned and told to expect the worst. For the next few weeks, Kim remained unconscious.

"It wasn't until a few days after I came round they told me they were going to have to amputate my legs because of the septicaemia."

Following the operation, Kim spent several months in a rehabilitation unit.

After nine months in hospital, she was ready to go home. She could not manage the stairs in her own flat but didn't want to go back to her parents' house.

"I knew if I went back, I would never leave. I had to get my own place and be independent but it was hard for quite a while."

Things began to look up when she met her future husband, Don. The couple have now been married for ten years and have two children.

"There is no need for anyone to go through what I did. I would urge students and young people to get vaccinated. It only takes a minute and it could save their lives."

For more information about meningitis and vaccinations, contact the Meningitis Trust's 24-hour helpline on 0845 6000800.

Report by Christian Pears