Stroke survivor Shirley from Upwell near Wisbech adds her voice to ‘Lost for Words’ campaign

Shirley and John Wilcox, she is now an advocate for the Stroke Association's 'Lost for Words' campaign.
Shirley and John Wilcox, she is now an advocate for the Stroke Association's 'Lost for Words' campaign.

Stroke survivor Shirley Willcox, 81, is one of the thousands of people living with communication difficulties after a stroke.

Shirley, from Upwell, had a severe stroke last June which left her with limited speech and affected her memory. Shirley now attends the Stroke Association’s Communication Support Group in West Norfolk each week, with husband John.

Shirley said: “My speech can be frustrating at times. I sometimes forget words which can be really annoying, and I easily get confused. My family have been wonderful, they have all helped me to have the confidence to keep going.

“Whilst my speech can get me down some days, I always try to be positive and happy. I’m very thankful to the speech and language therapists, the Stroke Association and my family for all their support.

“I’ve just joined the Stroke Association’s singing and music group in Swaffham. I used to play the organ in my local church, so music has always played a huge part of my life. The group has inspired me to get back into music which is so enjoyable.”

The Stroke Association’s ‘Lost for Words’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges stroke survivors with communication difficulties can face, and the help and support available.

Gemma Smith, support coordinator at the association, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like Shirley have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating. But with the right help and support, many stroke survivors are able to find new ways to communicate, and can rebuild their lives. When we first started supporting Shirley, we knew just how determined she was to communicate with her loved ones again. Shirley has gone from strength to strength; after her stroke she attended our weekly communication and long term support service in West Norfolk, she now attends our monthly communication sessions in Downham Market.

“Shirley has also had incredible support from her speech and language therapist, Sarah Manley. Sarah has supported Shirley enormously, and there has been such a huge improvement in Shirley’s speech and confidence each month. I’m so proud of her recovery.”

More than 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia, a communication disability which can be caused by stroke. The Stroke Association is urging people to show their support for stroke survivors who are lost for words and make a donation. For more information, visit www.stroke.org.uk/lostforwords.