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Creative Award

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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

Tony Finneran - Winner

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.

Emma Gaffy

EmmaEmma Gaffy suffered a stroke in 2003. Full of dreams and goals as a teenager, Emma decided having a stroke, leaving her with right-sided paralysis, was not going to stop her from achieving them. Disability aside, since 2003 she has travelled to 28 countries, trekked the mountains of Nepal to raise money for stroke awareness, DJ’d at Melbourne NYE events, started a blog talking about fashion, food, travel, appeared on a segment of SBS The Feed about life as a young stroke survivor with a disability and the discriminations she experienced and most recently, become a mum.

“Being nominated is such an honour,” Emma said.

“I started my website years ago for other young survivors, because when I had my stroke - there was nothing and no one to turn to online. I hoped to change that by opening an honest dialogue with other survivors and using the website as a creative way of expressing my experience.

“I’ll continue to document the journey, especially with my new role – a first time Mum.”

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.

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!

Tony Finneran - Winner

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.

Emma Gaffy

EmmaEmma Gaffy suffered a stroke in 2003. Full of dreams and goals as a teenager, Emma decided having a stroke, leaving her with right-sided paralysis, was not going to stop her from achieving them. Disability aside, since 2003 she has travelled to 28 countries, trekked the mountains of Nepal to raise money for stroke awareness, DJ’d at Melbourne NYE events, started a blog talking about fashion, food, travel, appeared on a segment of SBS The Feed about life as a young stroke survivor with a disability and the discriminations she experienced and most recently, become a mum.

“Being nominated is such an honour,” Emma said.

“I started my website years ago for other young survivors, because when I had my stroke - there was nothing and no one to turn to online. I hoped to change that by opening an honest dialogue with other survivors and using the website as a creative way of expressing my experience.

“I’ll continue to document the journey, especially with my new role – a first time Mum.”

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.

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!