Stroke survivor’s family seeks support for charity

Kenneth Tweedie and grandson Callum.
Kenneth Tweedie and grandson Callum.

A Carrick man is calling for greater support for a local stroke charity following his illness and recovery.

Kenneth Tweedie (59) who lives in Fergus Fold, had a serious stroke in February 2014.

Now he is backing the Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke service and urging local people to support the charity.

Grandfather of two Kenneth moved to Carrick from Glasgow in 2009 to be closer to his son Kenny and grandchildren.

He led a very active lifestyle – regularly walking up to 12 miles a day and maintaining a healthy diet so when stroke struck in February 2014, it was a big shock for the whole family.

Kenneth had a haemorrhagic stroke – a very serious bleed on his brain – which left him with little movement on his right side and limited speech.

He spent more than a year in hospital including 12 weeks recovering at the Brain Injury Unit in Musgrave Park Hospital.

Kenneth’s son Kenny explains: “It all happened so quickly and thinking back, it’s a miracle dad is here. Dad was very sick and at first the only words he could say were yes or no. That’s where the Stroke Association came in. They’ve made a big difference to dad’s recovery and helped him gain so much confidence”.

Around a third of stroke survivors like Kenneth live with aphasia – a communication disability which can affect a person’s ability to speak. Kenneth attended the Stroke Association’s Communication Plus programme which helps stroke survivors with a communication disability. The programme – which is partially funded by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust - helps stroke survivors learn new ways to communicate.

Kenny continued: “Sharon – the Stroke Association’s Speech and Language Therapist – helped dad to learn new ways to get his message across including using an iPad. He is now able to have small conversations and most importantly he is able to have a laugh which really helps to keep his morale up.”

“Sharon also put dad in touch with the local leisure centre and encouraged him to go back to the gym and attend local bowls and darts competitions. He’s been going every week since and in fact I think he had a better social life than me. Sharon gave dad his confidence back and we’re so grateful.

“Although dad is still working on his recovery, he has come a long way and the Stroke Association have been a big part of that. Dad and I wanted to share our story because we know that when stroke strikes, it can be very scary and difficult to know where to turn. I think it important for everyone to know that there is help out there and that you can have a good life after stroke.”

Sharon Millar, Stroke Association speech and language therapist, added: “It’s been a pleasure to support Kenneth and his family over the last few months and I’m delighted to see his recovery going from strength to strength.

“Our Communication Plus programmes are open to all stroke survivors and I’d like to encourage anyone affected by stroke to get in touch if you would like to attend our programme or find out how the Stroke Association could help you. Our Stroke Recovery service also provides support and grants to help stroke survivors purchase vital equipment to support their recovery”.

The Stroke Association provides Communication Plus and Stroke Recovery Services across Northern Ireland. To find out more, contact the Northern Ireland office on 028 9050 8020 or email ni@stroke.org.uk.