The helpers and the helped after a stroke

Stroke survivor Ian Clements with volunteer buddy Terry Harpur

Stroke survivor Ian Clements with volunteer buddy Terry Harpur

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IN the latest in a series of articles to mark national Stroke Awareness Week, we discover the local support on offer.

And much of it demonstrates that a stroke doesn’t mean the end of the world.

For many, it means altering their way of life and stroke survivor Ian Clements has used his experiences to inspire others as part of the Self Care for Stroke Programme at Think Ahead Stroke Group, in Ince.

The 52-year-old suffered a stroke in 2010 while on a plane to Egypt, but was not fully aware of the implications until he reached his hotel room and was saved by an aspirin.

He said: “I was watching a Harry Potter film and I remember it going in slow motion. I fell asleep and then landed and checked in at the hotel. I went to bed and after half an hour woke up with pins and needles in my left arm.

“I went to sleep and woke with an explosion in my head. My left leg was immobile and I couldn’t move my arm. I walked with a drag to the lift and I got some aspirin. I was told later that had saved my life as it thinned my blood. If I had taken paracetamol, I would not be here now.”

Ian, a former roadie to Deep Purple, blames his lifestyle and pressure in his later job as a holiday firm project manager for the stroke. He said: “I stopped exercising and was drinking too much, I believe I played a part in my own downfall just as much as the pressure of work.”

Ian had to work hard to adapt his life and uses his story to inspire other stroke survivors. He said: “I thought I would get back to normal, but I was so wrong. But now I can speak with other stroke survivors confidently and tell them that whilst it instantly it is not the end.

“Stroke survivors need to think about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do. It does not take everything away and I can still give something back to others. It is all about finding the positive.”

Another part of Think Ahead’s Self Care for Stroke Support Programme is the Buddies scheme.

Terry Harpur lost his wife a few years ago after a series of strokes and now he acts as a support friend for others. The Lowton 63-year-old said: “I first heard of Think Ahead when my wife, Elaine, had a stroke. The support they offered us was fantastic, but sadly after another series of strokes, she died at the age of 59. However, I felt I must give something back to the community that helped my wife and me so much.

“I joined Think Ahead’s Self-Care for Stroke scheme as a Stroke Support Buddy in October 2013. Essentially, I help survivors and carers by making brews, giving lifts to them to get to the Stroke Information Centre, and most of all by listening to them and offering any comfort and support I can.

“When you experience a stroke, your world is turned upside down and these strange emotions surface. Think Ahead isn’t there to simply tell them it’s all okay, but to give them the ammunition to empower people to lead full and happy lives – and that’s the greatest thing they do for survivors and carers.”