Improving Life After Stroke Award
Improving Life After Stroke Award
This award celebrates those who voluntarily dedicate their time to improving the care and support of stroke survivors in the community. This category is open to stroke survivors, carers, and volunteers who are making a big difference to the lives of survivors and raising awareness of their needs.
Christopher Kay – Improving Life After Stroke winner
After leaving hospital following his stroke two years ago, Noosa resident Christopher Kay felt alone and abandoned. He was only 43 years old and discovered there was little help available for young stroke survivors like himself.
As he struggled to get his life back, Chris realised there wasn’t even a support group for young stroke survivors in his regional area.
Unable to return to his senior role at a water utility, Chris took matters into his own hands and established the Young Queensland Stroke Support Group.
On his own initiative, Chris visited hospitals, medical officers, local councils, community groups, day centres and the Stroke Foundation to make them aware he had established a Noosa stroke support group. Chris arranged regular meetings and opened his heart and experiences to others who suffered the consequences of stroke in his district.
Always striving to help, Chris also volunteers at the Wesley Mission and is a member at the Noosa Heads Lions Club.
Chris is a great role model for his support group, and others who come across his path because he never gives in. Despite managing his own stroke complications, Chris’ fighting spirit is inspirational to all. A devoted family man, with a wife and two children, Chris is determined to find work and keeps pushing himself. Now he has applied to study a Certificate 3 Disability course to further his support for people with disabilities in the community.
Adam Mate – Improving Life after Stroke finalist
Mitcham local, Adam Mate was a sporty eleven year old, when he suffered a severe stroke. Overnight he became a quadriplegic with a less than 50 percent chance of survival. Adam spent ten days in a coma, unable to speak or move. His prognosis for living a fulfilling life was not good.
From the age of two, Adam had always skied with his family. After his stroke, Adam was so determined to regain his movement and enjoy his favourite sport, that he challenged his physiotherapist to a ski race down ‘Bourke Street’ at Mount Buller. After intensive rehab, five months later Adam won that race!
Now 41, Adam is using his story to help educate the community about stroke. In his spare time, Adam volunteers as one of the Stroke Foundation’s StrokeSafe Ambassadors talking to a wide range of people about how to recognise the signs of stroke and how to prevent it.
Adam has done many stroke awareness speeches at schools and throughout the community. His friend says her daughter is alive today and laughing mainly due to Adam’s care and understanding.
Adam now runs a business, is an advocate for disability rights and trains the disability ski team at Mt Hotham.
Louise Grant – Improving Life After Stroke
34 year old Central Coast resident, Louise Grant, was a busy mum to two young children.
But just six weeks after the birth of her second child, Louise suffered a near fatal stroke and spent 6 months in hospital recovering. For a new mum, it was devastating to miss out on that special time with her children as they grew up.
After this ordeal, Louise’s determination to return to near normal life is extremely inspirational to all. She has recently become Secretary of the Working Age Group Stroke support group on the Central Coast, who aim to raise awareness about stroke and offer support to the stroke survivor community.
In 2015, Louise participated in the 5km Westpac Helicopter Fundraiser in Terrigal. She has also participated in the Stroke Foundation’s annual fundraising drive Stride 4 Stroke and attends local fundraisers such as the Westpac Helicopter ball.
Louise is an inspiring young woman who is overcoming difficult challenges in adjusting to life after stroke. Her determination and courage is a testament to the kind of person she is. Louise is very positive despite her struggles and is always willing to help others by sharing her story.
Louise has done more than just survive after her stroke, she has thrived. Sharing her story gives other stroke survivors hope that life continues after stroke.
Nancy Hardwick – Improving Life After Stroke finalist
For thirty years, Toowoomba volunteer Nancy Hardwick has offered support to survivors of stroke.
Nancy is the driving force behind a weekly stroke support group. She started the programme at the local Base Hospital but five years ago, the group was relocated to East Creek Community Centre.
Nancy's group offers social support and conducts a range of activities to support learning to help people recover from stroke. She manages the attendees and always puts on a scrumptious morning tea. Nancy makes sure everyone contributes to the success of the group.
A staunch supporter of stroke survivors, Nancy has remained very committed to her role over the thirty years.
She is greatly valued and loved by everyone at East Creek Community Centre and has a great deal of knowledge and experience on how to improve mental aspects of stroke recovery and understand what people need. She is very experienced in dealing with a wide range individuals’ needs.
Nancy is an amazing woman who has helped many people over the years. Her warmth and friendliness make the group a highlight of the week - everyone says they look forward to Thursdays and Nancy's stroke group.
Normand Bourque – Improving Life After Stroke finalist
Following his stroke two years ago, retired IT consultant Normand Bourque was determined to give something back.
Despite struggling with his own recovery from stroke, Normand Bourque regularly volunteers his time to help other stroke survivors at the Osborne Park Hospital.
Thanks to wonderful volunteers like Normand, stroke inpatients can chat with someone who went through similar experiences and in doing so, feel more supported in their recovery. The volunteer visits are very popular and highly sought after in the hospital.
Normand uses his own experience of stroke to empathise with patients and help motivate them when the going gets tough during their rehabilitation. Stroke patients have said having Normand there ‘keeps you going despite the difficulties’.
Normand Bourque and the other volunteers do amazing work giving their time to help improve others’ lives. Yet this program doesn’t only benefit the patients, it also helps Normand and his fellow volunteers in their own ongoing recovery after stroke.
Like Normand said one day, “stroke is like a localised accident on the hard drive of your brain. You need a program to recover lost files. The backup is in neuroplasticity.”
Pearl Davis – Improving Life After Stroke finalist
Stroke patients absolutely adore Osborne Park Hospital volunteer, Pearl Davis, and often ask for a repeat visit.
A stroke survivor herself, Pearl had a massive stroke five years ago which left her in coma for nearly four weeks. Completely paralysed, unable to talk or swallow, she required full-time nursing care for many months. Later, Pearl became one of the hospital’s first volunteers giving up her time to support other stroke survivors.
Pearl’s intuition and sensitivity help her navigate the needs of stroke patients. If Pearl notices a patient might need additional assistance, care or follow-up, she always informs the health professionals on the ward. A polite and knowledgeable lady, Pearl knows when to talk or when just to listen. At the same time Pearl makes sure she is well informed about the patient she's going to see and what they might be interested in talking about.
Pearl also participates in Osborne Park rehabilitation study days where she shares her story with health professionals, who report she inspires them to do better every day.
Her colleagues say Pearl is an angel in human form and has done an amazing job supporting patients recovering from stroke.
Sandra and John Gibbs – Improving Life After Stroke finalists
Tasmanian couple, John and Sandra Gibbs know only too well what it is to suffer stroke.
In 2015, they both unexpectedly had strokes within two months of each other. Their lives would never be the same again.
However, this community minded couple were keen to share their own hard journey to recovery to help others avoid stroke. Even within their own community, the couple knew many people who didn’t understand what stroke is and how you can potentially prevent it.
John and Sandra take every opportunity to share their stories as stroke survivors who have faced real adversity and challenge in their own recoveries.
The Gibbs recently hosted a highly successful stroke awareness seminar in Ulverstone in Northern Tasmania, which featured speakers from the Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Tasmania and local health professionals. The Gibbs urged attendees to get a free health check to find out their risk of stroke.
Now John and Sandra have become StrokeSafe Ambassadors for the Stroke Foundation and are more determined than ever to spread the word about lifesaving stroke prevention and awareness.