Pub-based stroke club has national ambitions

Abingdon Stroke Club co-founders, front from left, Gary Gill and Brendan Kehoe with secretary Adrian Ballard at the club’s meeting in the College Oak, Peachcroft, where they launched their new website

Abingdon Stroke Club co-founders, front from left, Gary Gill and Brendan Kehoe with secretary Adrian Ballard at the club’s meeting in the College Oak, Peachcroft, where they launched their new website

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

A SUPPORT group founded by pub-going stroke survivors has become a registered charity.

Gary Gill teamed up with others to set up Stroke Club just under two years ago.

It started with two people meeting at The College Oak, Abingdon, and they have met there every fortnight without fail ever since – watching the club grow.

The group isn’t about medication and diagnosis, it’s just a place where stroke survivors can meet up with friends who understand how it feels.

Mr Gill, 48, says he wants to now make the club a national group, and already a new branch is being started in Didcot.

He said: “When I had my stroke I was left on my own.

“I met this bloke, Brendan, and he felt the same so we started this club, and it has just grown and grown.

“You can be the best physician in the world but if you’ve never had a stroke you’ll never understand it.

“I have a bit of a limp now and get pain, but the mental side is what is really horrible.

“When I am chatting to people I will forget what we’re talking about mid-sentence and have to apologise and ask them what we were talking about.

“I still go for therapy.”

Being a registered charity means Stroke Club won’t have to pay income or corporation tax and donations to the club may be eligible for Gift Aid. The official status can also make it easier to raise funds.

Mr Gill woke up on his sofa one morning in April 2012 and couldn’t feel his left arm.

When the feeling didn’t return after a few minutes he tried to speak, couldn’t, and realised he was having a stroke.

He was just 46.

It took him half an hour to crawl to his phone to call an ambulance, but the real struggle came in the weeks and months which followed as he tried to recover living on his own.

That all changed when he and another stroke survivor Brendan Kehoe founded Stroke Club in November that year.

On Tuesday, their club became an official registered charity and launched its new website – strokeclubuk.org The idea of Stroke Club was that it would be a place where no-one needed to feel embarrassed if they forgot what they were talking about.

Mr Gill said: “The thing I love about Stroke Club is the smiles on people’s faces.

“You have to be positive.

“People are so down when they arrive, but after one day with us they always have a smile on their face.”

The club now has 27 members, one of whom, Will Stammers, is starting the branch in Didcot. Mr Stammers, 39, suffered a stroke two-and-a-half years ago, and is now out of work.

He said: “It’s really just given me a focus in life. I enjoy it so much because it’s a place where everyone is in the same boat, everyone is a survivor or a carer.”

Mr Gill added: “People are coming on board, everyone wants to help us getting grants, everyone who comes does something.”

  • Our top stories:

Pothole payouts in Oxfordshire double

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE amount of compensation claimed by Oxfordshire drivers for pothole damage more than doubled in two years.

Travellers leave Botley Road Waitrose site after being handed eviction notice

Oxford Mail:

5:52pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Travellers left the Waitrose site in Botley Road today after being handed a 24-hour eviction notice.

Jayden trial: Jury in Jake Blakeley case sent home until Tuesday

Oxford Mail: Jake Blakeley, 18, from Didcot

5:49pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THE jury in the trial of Jake Blakeley will continue considering its verdict on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Delays on Cotswold Line between Oxford and Worcester after person hit by train

Oxford Mail: A First Great Western High Speed Train

4:30pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

THERE are delays of up to 40 minutes on rail services between Oxford, Worcester and Hereford this afternoon due to a person being hit by a train between Moreton-in-Marsh and Kingham.

UPDATE: Tesco Metro in Bicester to shut wih 56 job losses after firm announces national closures

Oxford Mail:

1:19pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

Tesco Metro in Bicester will close on April 4.

27 dead in crashes in Oxfordshire last year

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

12:43pm Wednesday 28th January 2015

TWENTY-seven people died in traffic collisions across the county last year.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree