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Courage Award

Recovering from stroke can be an uphill battle. The Courage Award recognises the indomitable courage and hope shown by survivors and carers in facing stroke recovery. This category is open to survivors and carers and celebrates individual recovery and resilience.

2021 Courage Award Finalists

  • Emma Beesley

    2021 Courage Award Winner

    Emma was a 33 year old lawyer when she suffered a stroke. It left her with right sided paralysis and aphasia. Emma has shown tremendous courage, perseverance and determination to overcome the challenges of being a young survivor of stroke and a person with aphasia.…

    Emma was a 33 year old lawyer when she suffered a stroke. It left her with right sided paralysis and aphasia. Emma has shown tremendous courage, perseverance and determination to overcome the challenges of being a young survivor of stroke and a person with aphasia.

    How did a stroke change your life initially, and what medical treatment and rehabilitation have you had?

    The stroke turned my life upside down. I had to learn to walk and talk again and do things with my left arm and leg again. I was in hospital for three months. It was another 12 months of outpatient therapy including physio, speech pathology and occupational therapy. 
     
    Who has been there to help you through your stroke journey?

    My family had been wonderful, especially my mum, dad and my sister Katrina. 
     
    How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey?

    I’m working again, but not in my old job because of my aphasia. I can only work part time because of fatigue. I am driving again in a modified car. I need speech therapy and physio fortnightly and attend the Maitland Aphasia Communication Group every Friday. This group is so valuable for me and all of my aphasia friends. 
     
    What advice would you give a survivor of stroke? 

    My advice would be set achievable goals and keep going! Never give up trying and working at your goals. Also, seek information from organisations like the Stroke Foundation or the Australian Aphasia Association. It’s important to make contact with people like yourself to know that you're not alone!
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  • Bob Carey-Grieve

    2021 Courage Award Finalist

    Bob was 42 years old when he displayed the F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) signs one morning when getting out of bed. Despite a stroke and facing other difficult health issues, Bob trained as a volunteer StrokeSafe Speaker in 2019 and never fails to bring…

    Bob was 42 years old when he displayed the F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) signs one morning when getting out of bed. Despite a stroke and facing other difficult health issues, Bob trained as a volunteer StrokeSafe Speaker in 2019 and never fails to bring enthusiasm, positivity and laughter to every event he attends.

    How did a stroke change your life initially, and what medical treatment and rehabilitation have you had?

    I woke up with a start, and found I’d lost all feeling down the right side of my body (it took a few times falling over to be absolutely totally sure), couldn’t write proper sentences or even answer questions without muddling my words. Turns out I was 42 at the time, and not 24 as I kept saying - maybe wishful thinking on my part.

    Somehow I'd had two simultaneous strokes, and no-one could tell me why. After pushing and pushing for answers I finally had a private Cardiologist diagnose a hole in my heart. After my stroke and heart surgery, I was determined to get my life back on track immediately. I started slow laps of the ward, and while clinging to my IV stand I built up my stamina. Eventually I was able to run as part of my recovery.

    Who has been there to help you through your stroke journey?

    My wife Bec and kids, Casper and Huey, supported me the whole time. Through the stroke, heart operation and cancer.

    What advice would you give a survivor of stroke? 

    Even if you can’t run, get up and see the sunrise every day. The surest way to start feeling better about the future is meet it head on. Run into the sunrise. Don’t just run at it. Attack it. Make the day yours.

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  • Francoise Gilroy

    2021 Courage Award Finalist

    Francoise is a retired 95 year old physiotherapist who worked with the Cremorne Stroke Group as a volunteer for over 25 years. She suffered a stroke in 2018 and has never given up hope and inspires all to improve despite setbacks. How did a stroke…

    Francoise is a retired 95 year old physiotherapist who worked with the Cremorne Stroke Group as a volunteer for over 25 years. She suffered a stroke in 2018 and has never given up hope and inspires all to improve despite setbacks.

    How did a stroke change your life initially, and what medical treatment and rehabilitation have you had?  

    Francoise has suffered several mini strokes, with the most recent occurring in June 2020 just after attending her brother's funeral. Francoise's recovery was lengthy and this was all during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns which meant visitors were restricted. It was an uphill battle at 94 years old, Francoise attended daily physiotherapy sessions and speech therapy. Francoise is now living in an aged care facility, she has joined a singing group to improve her speech and is trying to maintain her email and writing skills. She uses a wheelie walker and takes several walks around the facility every day.  

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

    Prior to her retirement, Francoise had worked as a Physiotherapist assisting stroke patients in their recovery journey. Francoise was inspired by the hope, optimism and courage her past patients showed.

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  • Julie and Ross Collins

    2021 Courage Award Finalist

    Julie Collins became a full-time career when her husband Ross had a stroke in October of 2012. Julie and Ross made a formidable team, advocating for many years to improve stroke care and raise awareness of the vital role of carers. Sadly, Ross passed away…

    Julie Collins became a full-time career when her husband Ross had a stroke in October of 2012. Julie and Ross made a formidable team, advocating for many years to improve stroke care and raise awareness of the vital role of carers. Sadly, Ross passed away in October 2020.

    How did a stroke change your lives initially, and what medical treatment and rehabilitation was undertaken? 
    Ross’  stroke was horrendous. Ross was found on the floor of our study by our daughter two days before her VCE English exam. Ross spent almost three months in acute care and more than five months in the rehabilitation hospital. Ross had some physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and music therapy, but  we never believed this was enough. Ross had a complete right side deficit and difficulty with speech and swallowing. We had many subsequent trips to the emergency department. Ross’ business needed to be ‘sold’, I had to stop work to deal with various financial, medical and social issues  and we had to sell our home. I felt that I needed to advocate on his behalf as he couldn’t speak and advocate for himself. 

    What advice would you give a survivor of stroke and their families?  
    Write down everything! Who did you speak to? What was said? What was the result? What is the plan moving forward? When did procedures occur? Who were the doctors, nurses, allied health staff? Contact the Stroke Foundation. Get help. Ask for assistance. Get support. Ask questions. Read everything you can. Do your best! That’s all you can do. BE KIND to yourself! 
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  • Tommy Davidson

    2021 Courage Award Finalist

    Eleven year old Tommy‚Äôs mother Reece had a stroke when he was 14 months old. As a result, he is passionate about raising awareness that stroke can impact people at any age and believes you are never too young to know the F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms,…

    Eleven year old Tommy’s mother Reece had a stroke when he was 14 months old. As a result, he is passionate about raising awareness that stroke can impact people at any age and believes you are never too young to know the F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) signs of stroke.

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

    As I was young when Mum had her stroke, I grew up discussing stroke and the signs of stroke. Mum made sure I was familiar with the F.A.S.T. message. I thought if I could share it with the kids at school, it may possibly save someone's life. I presented my talk to all the children in my school from grade 4 to 6 educating them on F.A.S.T. and made a video of my presentation. I also did a television interview with Channel 7, it was a great way to raise awareness. I would like to continue educating children on the signs of stroke and participate in fundraising events for the Stroke Foundation.


    Who has been there to help you through your mum's stroke journey?
      

    My Nan and Pop helped out a lot with Mum's recovery and as mum recovered she always explained what was happening and talked to me about her stroke and encouraged me to ask questions. When I had the idea of making my online presentation and presenting to the school, my principal was very enthusiastic as it fulfilled our school values of integrity, diversity, social justice and learning and achievement. 

    What advice would you give a survivor of stroke? 

    I would say keep fighting and don't give up. Mum's recovery took a long time. Show courage, work hard and surround yourself with people you love. 

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