Stroke survivor urges locals to ‘Give a Hand’

Philomena Walker at the Stroke Association's Banbridge group meeting
Philomena Walker at the Stroke Association's Banbridge group meeting

A Dromore stroke survivor is urging people across the wider Banbridge area to ‘Give a Hand’ in the campaign to raise awareness.

Philomena Walker, who had a stroke at the age of 52, is championing the Stroke Association’s Banbridge group as it casts a net for more volunteers.

The groups’ efforts come in the run-up to the charity’s October 26-November 1 ‘Give a Hand’ initiative, challenging people across Northern Ireland to complete an everyday activity using the hand they wouldn’t normally use.

Philomena suffered her stroke on September 14, 2003.

“I was driving my car in Dromore, around a roundabout, when the car suddenly stopped and I slumped over the steering wheel.

“It took an hour for somebody to realise something was wrong; people were driving around my car.

“Thankfully a friend of mine recognised my car and they were able to stop to call my doctor and an ambulance.

“My stroke left me with a weakness down my right side and initially I couldn’t use my right hand; I had to learn how to write with my left.” A Stroke Association spokesperson said that by getting involved with ‘Give a Hand’ people could help change the world for stroke survivors, supporting people like Philomena on the road to recovery.

Initially reluctant to leave the house following her stroke, and left feeling isolated, Philomena identifies support groups like the Stroke Association’s Monday afternoon Banbridge Group as one of the main factors in her recovery.

The social aspect of the group, she said - meeting other people who had had a stroke and helping them while they helped her - was one of the reasons she made good progress.

Stroke Association Northern Ireland Fundraising Manager Paul Montgomery said: “A stroke strikes in an instant but its effects can last a lifetime. Three quarters of stroke survivors lose the use of one of their hands.

“Often people affected by stroke have to re-learn to do the things they’ve always done – using their other hand. The Stroke Association supports people through this rehabilitation.

“We’re calling on people to ‘Give a Hand’ this October and raise funds by completing a task, or several, using their ‘other’ hand. By taking part and raising funds for the Stroke Association, we can help more people like Philomena to conquer stroke.”

For more information visit www.stroke.org.uk/giveahand - to download or request a fundraising pack.

For more information about stroke call the helpline on 0303 3033 100.

The Stroke Association’s communication support group in Banbridge meets on a Monday afternoon (2-4pm) in Banbridge Library. If you would like to attend contact the Belfast office on 028 9050 8020 or by emailing ni@stroke.org.uk.