Menu

Creative Award

Marmalade logo

Proudly sponsored by Marmalade Melbourne

The Creative Award celebrates stroke survivors’ contribution to creative industries, including writing, photography, music and fine art. The award is open to stroke survivors in the community who are actively pursuing creative achievements.

Creative Award Winner & Finalists

Emma Gaffy

Peter Hocking

Peter

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

I was born and lived in Melbourne all my life. I completed degrees in Food Science, and in Applied Biology, and worked in food manufacturing before joining what was then G.J.Coles in the early years of their supermarket expansion in 1974. I became head of the fledgling food quality department in 1981 and remained in charge of the function, presiding over a 10-fold expansion during my career. I retired in 2003, head of group quality control for Food and Liquor, Kmart, and Officeworks within Coles Myer Ltd.

I am a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, and was an active professional within the food industry throughout my career. I was a member of the Victorian Government Food Safety Council and Chairman of the Course Advisory Committee for Food Science at RMIT University.

In early 2014, just short of 67, I suffered a debilitating stroke which left me with permanent right-side disability with mobility issues and little use of the arm. I have been happily married for 30 years to lovely Lily, who has been my devoted carer and support since the stroke.

The stroke has dramatically changed my life both physically and mentally. I was a fit and active person and long distance walker. Five months before my stroke I walked across Scotland, coast-to-coast. Now I have to resign myself to a much less active life and to walking painfully slowly with a stick. Physically, I try to stay active within my limits and can enjoy former loves like gardening and driving adventures. Perhaps the mental side is more confronting; my self-confidence and self -belief have taken a big beating and I can be easily overwhelmed by setbacks.

What initiative/s have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?

At this stage of my journey I can look back on significant improvement but realistically must look forward to much less, though I still believe I can improve. I have passed the stage of “what can people do to help me ?” and moved to “what can I do to help others?” - how can I put a disaster for me, to a positive end by helping others through my experience and raising understanding of strokes generally.

This has led to the following initiatives to help stroke survivors:
- Publishing the book, “Not to Yield” describing my stroke journey.
- Two articles in “Stroke Talk”; one on returning to driving and the other on the mental side of strokes.
- Becoming involved in the running and programmes of the Boroondara Stroke Support Group.
- Making myself available to various community groups, such as Rotary as a guest speaker to raise awareness of strokes and what survivors go through (to date I have made five such presentations and another is scheduled at a Men's Health Forum).

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?

Never give up; never lose heart; never believe you can't improve.

Don't be impatient with your progress – you are in a marathon not a sprint, so pace yourself.

Attitude is everything. Having a disability does not make you disabled.

Remember your Carer and family generally are doing it tough too (mentally) – make it as easy on them as you can; tell them often how important they are to you. The best way to boost your mood is to make someone else feel good about themselves.

Tony Finneran

Tony

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

It's an event that you don't plan for! Things that were easy pre stroke are now very difficult. Understanding that, I was determined, if I had the opportunity, to not let the stroke defeat me. My Army Reserve service had taught me to win the war; in battle, sometimes you have to withdraw and attack the target from another approach.

Given that I was totally paralysed for the first month, my family had to consider full time care. When I gained some movement again I realised that my destiny was in my own hands to some extent with leadership, motivation, celebrations of goals achieved and direction from the Hospital support teams at Bankstown and my wife and family gave added impetus to adapt and overcome.

My stroke journey started seven years ago and I have had a remarkable recovery considering where I was at. There is always hope after stroke and at the moment, I have started a physio program to try and regain my deficient right hand. It will mean lots of work and brain plasticity and repetitive exercise, though the corona pandemic may give me the time to practice when I'm not writing the next book in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten Series’ of bus and coach books.

I have also realised that I can actually do more things than those I can't do now. That's a big step of acceptance after stroke.

What initiative/s have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?

As part of the Executive team at the Bankstown Stroke Recovery group our aims include to get working age folk to resume employment, and to improve the survivor, families and carers to a quality of life similar to what they had prior to the stroke.

The Creative side has given me the opportunity to write pictorial history books about elements of the bus and coach industry that have been well accepted by Industry and enthusiasts. We self publish and use the sales as a Stroke Foundation fundraiser and to date we have raised more than $38,000.00 to the Foundation.

I am a regular interviewee with a Sydney Community radio station (90.1FM) providing stroke awareness. Moreover, in 2015 during stroke week I initiated a 50 minute broadcast on ABC Radio national evening show (Tony Delroy) discussing stroke with Toni Aslett and John Worthington, a neuro from Liverpool. ABC Late Show had the largest national audience of all radio stations at the time.

After that, I became a Stroke Safe Ambassador and raise stroke awareness, think FAST - Act FAST to community groups and employers.

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?

Everyone has a different stroke and therefore don't be judgemental. There is always hope after stroke and take every opportunity presented to you as you will never know where it may take you.

Never give up and be as strong as you can be and live life to the max. Sadly, there is always someone worse off than you so no point being miserable. Hey, you're breathing and that has to be a plus whatever the circumstances are!

My stroke has been absolutely rewarding and it would have been nice to not have had it, but I have no regrets. I've found abilities within myself that I never knew I had previously. It's been a fun journey.

Toni Arfaras

Toni

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

Having a stroke was a life changing experience for me and my family. Pre-stroke I was a primary school teacher but the effects of my stroke have resulted in me being assessed as never able to work. I’m lucky in that I was accepted as a Strokesafe Ambassador which means I volunteer delivering educational talks to various groups which is a role I love. Six years on and I have an awareness of my limitations and triggers, so I plan my days and outings with those things in mind. Whilst stroke has changed my life in myriad of ways, a positive from it is that it has enabled me to reconnect with my love of drawing and coloured pencils.

What initiative/s have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?

I believe that education is the key to ensuring all members of the community are aware of stroke risk factors, how to recognise a stroke and what to do if they suspect someone of having one. I hope my willingness to talk to other survivors and the sharing of my experiences through a variety of national and international podcasts and the blogs I have written will help survivors, carers and families. I also like to think my involvement in various Stroke Foundation initiatives, such as Living Guidelines, and the different research projects I have participated in in some small way all contribute to improving life after a stroke.

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?

Make connections with other stroke survivors, through forums like the Stroke Foundation’s EnableMe platform, and ring Strokeline, because whilst each person’s stroke, and their reaction to its affect, is different, you’ll usually find something that resonates with you so that you won’t feel like you’re the only one going through this experience. For me, educating myself about my stroke was so important so I kept asking questions and researching until I was happy with the responses. I think it’s important to remember that your stroke doesn’t define you, you are still you, so try do something that you enjoy, like me with my art, and do things with your partner that are about you as a couple and not just focused on your recovery and rehab. Also acknowledge the various emotions you’ll go through; it’s okay to have moments where you cry or get angry but if they are more than moments speak to your GP or psychologist. You’re not in this alone!

Emma Gaffy

Peter Hocking

Peter

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

I was born and lived in Melbourne all my life. I completed degrees in Food Science, and in Applied Biology, and worked in food manufacturing before joining what was then G.J.Coles in the early years of their supermarket expansion in 1974. I became head of the fledgling food quality department in 1981 and remained in charge of the function, presiding over a 10-fold expansion during my career. I retired in 2003, head of group quality control for Food and Liquor, Kmart, and Officeworks within Coles Myer Ltd.

I am a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, and was an active professional within the food industry throughout my career. I was a member of the Victorian Government Food Safety Council and Chairman of the Course Advisory Committee for Food Science at RMIT University.

In early 2014, just short of 67, I suffered a debilitating stroke which left me with permanent right-side disability with mobility issues and little use of the arm. I have been happily married for 30 years to lovely Lily, who has been my devoted carer and support since the stroke.

The stroke has dramatically changed my life both physically and mentally. I was a fit and active person and long distance walker. Five months before my stroke I walked across Scotland, coast-to-coast. Now I have to resign myself to a much less active life and to walking painfully slowly with a stick. Physically, I try to stay active within my limits and can enjoy former loves like gardening and driving adventures. Perhaps the mental side is more confronting; my self-confidence and self -belief have taken a big beating and I can be easily overwhelmed by setbacks.

What initiative/s have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?

At this stage of my journey I can look back on significant improvement but realistically must look forward to much less, though I still believe I can improve. I have passed the stage of “what can people do to help me ?” and moved to “what can I do to help others?” - how can I put a disaster for me, to a positive end by helping others through my experience and raising understanding of strokes generally.

This has led to the following initiatives to help stroke survivors:
- Publishing the book, “Not to Yield” describing my stroke journey.
- Two articles in “Stroke Talk”; one on returning to driving and the other on the mental side of strokes.
- Becoming involved in the running and programmes of the Boroondara Stroke Support Group.
- Making myself available to various community groups, such as Rotary as a guest speaker to raise awareness of strokes and what survivors go through (to date I have made five such presentations and another is scheduled at a Men's Health Forum).

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?

Never give up; never lose heart; never believe you can't improve.

Don't be impatient with your progress – you are in a marathon not a sprint, so pace yourself.

Attitude is everything. Having a disability does not make you disabled.

Remember your Carer and family generally are doing it tough too (mentally) – make it as easy on them as you can; tell them often how important they are to you. The best way to boost your mood is to make someone else feel good about themselves.

Tony Finneran

Tony

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

It's an event that you don't plan for! Things that were easy pre stroke are now very difficult. Understanding that, I was determined, if I had the opportunity, to not let the stroke defeat me. My Army Reserve service had taught me to win the war; in battle, sometimes you have to withdraw and attack the target from another approach.

Given that I was totally paralysed for the first month, my family had to consider full time care. When I gained some movement again I realised that my destiny was in my own hands to some extent with leadership, motivation, celebrations of goals achieved and direction from the Hospital support teams at Bankstown and my wife and family gave added impetus to adapt and overcome.

My stroke journey started seven years ago and I have had a remarkable recovery considering where I was at. There is always hope after stroke and at the moment, I have started a physio program to try and regain my deficient right hand. It will mean lots of work and brain plasticity and repetitive exercise, though the corona pandemic may give me the time to practice when I'm not writing the next book in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten Series’ of bus and coach books.

I have also realised that I can actually do more things than those I can't do now. That's a big step of acceptance after stroke.

What initiative/s have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?

As part of the Executive team at the Bankstown Stroke Recovery group our aims include to get working age folk to resume employment, and to improve the survivor, families and carers to a quality of life similar to what they had prior to the stroke.

The Creative side has given me the opportunity to write pictorial history books about elements of the bus and coach industry that have been well accepted by Industry and enthusiasts. We self publish and use the sales as a Stroke Foundation fundraiser and to date we have raised more than $38,000.00 to the Foundation.

I am a regular interviewee with a Sydney Community radio station (90.1FM) providing stroke awareness. Moreover, in 2015 during stroke week I initiated a 50 minute broadcast on ABC Radio national evening show (Tony Delroy) discussing stroke with Toni Aslett and John Worthington, a neuro from Liverpool. ABC Late Show had the largest national audience of all radio stations at the time.

After that, I became a Stroke Safe Ambassador and raise stroke awareness, think FAST - Act FAST to community groups and employers.

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?

Everyone has a different stroke and therefore don't be judgemental. There is always hope after stroke and take every opportunity presented to you as you will never know where it may take you.

Never give up and be as strong as you can be and live life to the max. Sadly, there is always someone worse off than you so no point being miserable. Hey, you're breathing and that has to be a plus whatever the circumstances are!

My stroke has been absolutely rewarding and it would have been nice to not have had it, but I have no regrets. I've found abilities within myself that I never knew I had previously. It's been a fun journey.

Toni Arfaras

Toni

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

Having a stroke was a life changing experience for me and my family. Pre-stroke I was a primary school teacher but the effects of my stroke have resulted in me being assessed as never able to work. I’m lucky in that I was accepted as a Strokesafe Ambassador which means I volunteer delivering educational talks to various groups which is a role I love. Six years on and I have an awareness of my limitations and triggers, so I plan my days and outings with those things in mind. Whilst stroke has changed my life in myriad of ways, a positive from it is that it has enabled me to reconnect with my love of drawing and coloured pencils.

What initiative/s have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?

I believe that education is the key to ensuring all members of the community are aware of stroke risk factors, how to recognise a stroke and what to do if they suspect someone of having one. I hope my willingness to talk to other survivors and the sharing of my experiences through a variety of national and international podcasts and the blogs I have written will help survivors, carers and families. I also like to think my involvement in various Stroke Foundation initiatives, such as Living Guidelines, and the different research projects I have participated in in some small way all contribute to improving life after a stroke.

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?

Make connections with other stroke survivors, through forums like the Stroke Foundation’s EnableMe platform, and ring Strokeline, because whilst each person’s stroke, and their reaction to its affect, is different, you’ll usually find something that resonates with you so that you won’t feel like you’re the only one going through this experience. For me, educating myself about my stroke was so important so I kept asking questions and researching until I was happy with the responses. I think it’s important to remember that your stroke doesn’t define you, you are still you, so try do something that you enjoy, like me with my art, and do things with your partner that are about you as a couple and not just focused on your recovery and rehab. Also acknowledge the various emotions you’ll go through; it’s okay to have moments where you cry or get angry but if they are more than moments speak to your GP or psychologist. You’re not in this alone!

Lynette Gordon-Smith - QLD - Winner

Lynette Gordon Smith

The ‘Saxy Lady’ was told she may never play the saxophone again after a stroke in 2017. But with determination, a great deal of persistence and hope, Lynette is back doing what she loves best. Lynette has held concerts locally and produced a CD.

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?
The stroke has left me with significant loss of use of my right hand/arm and also some weakness in my right leg. I can walk with the assistance of a wheely walker around inside the house and use a wheelchair and an electric scooter out of the house.

What initiative have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?
I have a lot of penfriends and I have sent them all stroke information and fridge magnets etc.

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?
Never... never ever give up... and ensure those around them understand what Stoke is, and how important a part they have to play in my recovery and the recognition of symptoms in others, so as to facilitate earliest medical intervention.


Michael Young - VIC

Michael’s family was told he would be a “vegetable” and probably spend the rest of his life in a nursing home following his stroke in September in 2017. But with determination and a great support network, Michael is now back on the dramatic stage doing and doing what he loves. 

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

I was unable to walk, my left arm would not move, I had a face droop and my speech was effected. I am walking better but very slowly with a pronounced limp. My left arm is useless at the moment. My goal is to get it to do something useful like being able to use a knife and fork would be good. Some big goals I set at the start, getting back on stage and playing golf, have both been achieved. 

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?
My advice to other stroke survivors is to be positive about everything and everyone in your life. It has worked for me and all my support people are still my friends.

Dane Peters - NSW 

Dane Peters

Dane was in high school when he was struck by stroke altering the course of his life. Recovery for Dane has been a journey, one that has now lead him to helping others through becoming an author.

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey? 
After having my stroke my life changed forever. I could never complete my dream and join the Army now, my grades dropped alarmingly and friends disappeared. I could never play rugby league again. I thought my life was over. 30 years later, I have found a job that I love. I have good friends, family and have played cricket on Saturday in my district's cricket competition.  

What initiative have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors? 
I have always wondered why a stroke would strike me down at the age of 13.  At a school reunion whilst talking with a former classmate, a lightbulb went off in my brain. Maybe I suffered this stroke to help others, and the way to help people was to write a book in regards to what you can achieve after having a stroke or any setback in life. Thus begun my journey in writing this book “Believe and Achieve, The Dane Peters Story”

What advice would you give to a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke? 
If you believe in yourself, you can achieve so much. 

Maria Lewis - NSW

Maria Lewis
 
Maria was a journalist at The Daily Telegraph before her stroke, often working 12 hour days as well as doing sport, hosting film events and trying to get a book published on the side. She is inspirational for other young people to see someone in their twenties out there chasing their dreams creatively, while also openly speaking about what they've had to overcome after having a TIA.

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?
Stroke changed everything about my life, especially given that I was in my early twenties and had no family history, no warning signs. It made me much more aware of my body and also things that I wanted to do in my life. For instance, publishing a book had always been a dream of mine and I was just quietly plodding along with journalism and slowly working towards that goal. After my TIA, I started working harder than ever to get that book published because for the first time I realised there truly aren’t any guarantees in life.  

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?
You’re allowed to be angry and you’re allowed to feel that it’s unfair. Because it is: having a stroke, mini or macro, freakin’ sucks. But there’s no reason it has to be the thing that defines you, especially if you’re young. It may feel like you’re alone or that you’re the only young person to have a stroke: sadly, you’re not. It happens every day to thousands of people, many of them under 65, and although the journey to recovery isn’t necessarily easy it is possible. There are more effective treatments now than there were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago - let alone all of the new breakthroughs that are happening every day. Stroke is a thing that happened to you, but it’s not the crux of who you are as a person.

 

Lynette Gordon-Smith - QLD - Winner

Lynette Gordon Smith

The ‘Saxy Lady’ was told she may never play the saxophone again after a stroke in 2017. But with determination, a great deal of persistence and hope, Lynette is back doing what she loves best. Lynette has held concerts locally and produced a CD.

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?
The stroke has left me with significant loss of use of my right hand/arm and also some weakness in my right leg. I can walk with the assistance of a wheely walker around inside the house and use a wheelchair and an electric scooter out of the house.

What initiative have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors?
I have a lot of penfriends and I have sent them all stroke information and fridge magnets etc.

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?
Never... never ever give up... and ensure those around them understand what Stoke is, and how important a part they have to play in my recovery and the recognition of symptoms in others, so as to facilitate earliest medical intervention.


Michael Young - VIC

Michael’s family was told he would be a “vegetable” and probably spend the rest of his life in a nursing home following his stroke in September in 2017. But with determination and a great support network, Michael is now back on the dramatic stage doing and doing what he loves. 

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

I was unable to walk, my left arm would not move, I had a face droop and my speech was effected. I am walking better but very slowly with a pronounced limp. My left arm is useless at the moment. My goal is to get it to do something useful like being able to use a knife and fork would be good. Some big goals I set at the start, getting back on stage and playing golf, have both been achieved. 

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?
My advice to other stroke survivors is to be positive about everything and everyone in your life. It has worked for me and all my support people are still my friends.

Dane Peters - NSW 

Dane Peters

Dane was in high school when he was struck by stroke altering the course of his life. Recovery for Dane has been a journey, one that has now lead him to helping others through becoming an author.

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey? 
After having my stroke my life changed forever. I could never complete my dream and join the Army now, my grades dropped alarmingly and friends disappeared. I could never play rugby league again. I thought my life was over. 30 years later, I have found a job that I love. I have good friends, family and have played cricket on Saturday in my district's cricket competition.  

What initiative have you introduced to help make life easier for stroke survivors? 
I have always wondered why a stroke would strike me down at the age of 13.  At a school reunion whilst talking with a former classmate, a lightbulb went off in my brain. Maybe I suffered this stroke to help others, and the way to help people was to write a book in regards to what you can achieve after having a stroke or any setback in life. Thus begun my journey in writing this book “Believe and Achieve, The Dane Peters Story”

What advice would you give to a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke? 
If you believe in yourself, you can achieve so much. 

Maria Lewis - NSW

Maria Lewis
 
Maria was a journalist at The Daily Telegraph before her stroke, often working 12 hour days as well as doing sport, hosting film events and trying to get a book published on the side. She is inspirational for other young people to see someone in their twenties out there chasing their dreams creatively, while also openly speaking about what they've had to overcome after having a TIA.

How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?
Stroke changed everything about my life, especially given that I was in my early twenties and had no family history, no warning signs. It made me much more aware of my body and also things that I wanted to do in my life. For instance, publishing a book had always been a dream of mine and I was just quietly plodding along with journalism and slowly working towards that goal. After my TIA, I started working harder than ever to get that book published because for the first time I realised there truly aren’t any guarantees in life.  

What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke?
You’re allowed to be angry and you’re allowed to feel that it’s unfair. Because it is: having a stroke, mini or macro, freakin’ sucks. But there’s no reason it has to be the thing that defines you, especially if you’re young. It may feel like you’re alone or that you’re the only young person to have a stroke: sadly, you’re not. It happens every day to thousands of people, many of them under 65, and although the journey to recovery isn’t necessarily easy it is possible. There are more effective treatments now than there were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago - let alone all of the new breakthroughs that are happening every day. Stroke is a thing that happened to you, but it’s not the crux of who you are as a person.