Club eases strain of stroke sufferers

PUBLISHED: 17:54 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:29 03 July 2010

THE impact is sudden and traumatic and for those that survive the path to recovery can be long and arduous.

A stroke is the third biggest killer and leading cause of severe disability in Britain, having an immense impact on the lives of previously healthy people.

THE impact is sudden and traumatic and for those that survive the path to recovery can be long and arduous.

A stroke is the third biggest killer and leading cause of severe disability in Britain, having an immense impact on the lives of previously healthy people.

The Great Yarmouth branch of the Stroke Association Communication Group aims to ease some of the strain experienced by both sufferers and carers.

The weekly meetings provide somewhere for members to have a laugh, chat and socialise, helping overcome the sense of isolation often caused by a stroke.

Jack Pollard, from Gorleston, has struggled for the last four years to regain his speech, mobility and memory since suffering a stroke.

Those difficulties have been eased by the friends the 58 year old has made amongst the fellow members and volunteers at the club.

“I have met people in the same situation as me here and if it was not for this club I don't think I would have made the recovery I have,” he said.

“It is a way back into the outside world, made me more positive and helped overcome the feeling that I can't do anything any more.

“We have a quiz or game of cards and then stop for a cup of tea. If it is sunny we go outside, which soon makes things seem a lot better.

“If I won the lottery then I would donate the winnings to the Stroke Association, because it does such wonderful job.

“I am so grateful to the volunteers here who come and give their time, it is wonderful just to be able to sit down and have a laugh and joke.

“It has helped me with my speech and given me a wider perspective seeing how other people cope with a stroke.”

Trained carpenter, Mr Pollard was paralysed down the right side and lost his speech when he suffered a stroke in 2004.

A previously healthy man, he had to call on all his reserves of willpower to try and improve his quality of life.

“It turned my life upside down overnight, when I came back from hospital I could not walk or talk so I really had to learn to do everything from scratch again,” he said.

“That's where my family came in, my wife Kathy has been a tremendous support and my young grand-daughter has helped me through.

“Having a stroke made me realise how much I took for granted before when everything was handed to me on a plate.

“I can't work any longer and am not able to drive because of the medication that I am taking.

“Before my stroke I used to like riding motorbikes, but now just have to make do with watching them-I still have a lot of enthusiasm for life which has kept me going.

“It's important to be positive, my condition is not as bad as some others who are stuck in a wheelchair and don't have any speech at all.”

The group, which meets at Centre 81 in Tar Works Road and also in Beccles and Lowestoft has about 40 members and relies on a dedicated team of volunteers.

Maisie Leggett is amongst those who give up their time and energy to help keep the club running.

“I had retired and wanted to give something back, it is very frustrating for stroke victims and there are not enough speech therapists about,” she said.

“The club provides a respite for families, gives them a bit of a rest, having a stroke makes it difficult to mix or go out. It is very easy to get depressed. If they didn't come to the meetings they would not do half the things they do.”

For more information about the club call Bridget Lowe on 07717275775.

Stroke facts and figures

·Every year an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke, 1000 of whom are under 30.

·A stroke is caused by blood supply to part of the brain being cut off.

·Because the brain controls body function and communication a stroke can affect mobility and speech.

·There are two main causes of a stroke.

·The most common is an ischaemic stroke when a clot blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain.

·The second type is a bleed when a blood vessel bursts causing a haemorrhage in the brain.

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