One of the silver linings following my son’s stroke was that I made two very lovely friends whose children had also suffered strokes. And on Saturday, Liz, Nancy and I hosted a support day for more than 50 parents of other child stroke survivors. The planning, organisation and execution was hard work, tiring and emotional, but the feedback was fantastic and everyone seemed to go home feeling positive, more knowledgeable and very happy to have had the opportunity to make friends with other parents who understand what they’re going through.
We had a tremendous amount of support from The Stroke Association, especially a dedicated and exceptionally lovely lady named Anna Panton, who runs the new Childhood Stroke Project in the London and the South East. Liz chose a gorgeous venue right in the heart of the city. Bright, eclectically designed rooms with trendy pink furnishings (right up my street!), a courtyard garden and a fab café. I’ve taken details with a view to booking my next social media training session there – the chocolate brownies were to die for!!
We were privileged to have the support of three amazing experts who gave presentations to the whole group then joined in with the afternoon’s facilitated workshops. Dr Vijeya Ganesan was actually Oli’s consultant, overseeing his care for almost five years. She’s one the world’s foremost authorities on childhood stroke and vascular problems, so it was an honour to have her there. Dr Anne Gordon is a senior consultant occupational therapist who specialises in working with young stroke survivors worldwide, and offered some innovative therapies that people weren’t aware of – including visualisation, which is something I often talk about in business, but never equated to health issues.
We were also joined by Dr Andrew Mallick, who so kindly travelled up from Bristol for the day. Andrew’s a neurologist who recently completed a study on the outcomes of childhood stroke. As part of that, a few years ago he survived an afternoon at my home studying Oli and eating my home made muffins. Everyone benefited from the knowledgeable team from The Stroke Association who gave up their Saturday for us and spread purple love all around the room. This included Joe Korner, the director of communications (who gave a very entertaining talk on the inspirational Life After Stroke awards), Chris Randell, the parliamentary officer, PR guru Lizzie and a lovely lady who registered everyone, but I don’t know her name! Huge thanks to the Stroke Association for funding the day!
Also sharing the love was a holistic therapist called Pippa, who I met a couple of months ago at an art exhibition, then bumped into again in a cake shop. The universe clearly intended to put us together… Pippa spent the afternoon giving free massages and therapies to some of the stressed mums and dads.
On behalf of Liz, Nancy and myself, we’d like to thank everyone who helped make the day such as success. Thank you all for so generously taking time out of your weekend. And special thanks too, of course, to all the parents who travelled to London for the day. So pleased you found it worthwhile!
We may have good friends in our lives – and I’m lucky to have some fantastic ones who’ve really clomped with me through the thickest forests and spun me round when I’m skating across thin ice. But sometimes the only people who understand are the ones who’ve been there. Carole King certainly knew what she what she was talking about.
“When you’re down and troubled, and you need a helping hand – and nothing, oh nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there; to brighten up even your darkest night.” Without question, I’m there for my friends. (Actually, right now I’m in the garden – first day this year in the sun, on the lawn with my laptop!) But yes, I’m always there. And here: @WeekendWitch.