The Stroke Association always puts on a good event: inspiring and motivating for anyone touched by stroke. In his opening remarks, Chris Tarrant said that when he was invited to host last year’s Life After Stroke Awards, he expected the evening to be quite glum. On the contrary, the glitzy surround of The Dorchester Hotel’s grand ballroom is a perfect setting for celebrating the achievements of some awesome people affected by this cruel life-changing event.
From the photos I posted on Facebook, it clearly looks like I’m a groupie for various familiar actors and actresses. Yet, however it looked, I wasn’t auditioning for a part in Coronation Street. I think I offended Shobna Gulati when I tactlessly told her I was sad they’d killed her off in the fire; she said she was pretty upset about it too!!
Robert Bathurst, as you may already know – was absolutely charming, and recorded a video for Oli which I gleefully shared on social media. I saw him earlier this year being painted during the filming of Portrait Artist of the Year, blogging about it at the time. I thought he was really nice then, but I’m totally impressed with him now. James Norton was cute (no sign of any murderous traits), Chris Tarrant seemed interested when we chatted at the bar, Sally Lindsay is just brilliant and Andy Bell was as sensational as he was back in the day.
But the evening wasn’t about all that. It wasn’t about the fabulous food, the mesmerising ultraviolet stalactite table centres or the flowing champagne. It was about the people within the stroke community who keep going in the face of the worst kind of adversity. It was about the families and support networks, the carers, the volunteers, the fundraisers. It was about the professional teams who keep people alive, and with the best possible quality of life. And, most of all, it was about the people who have survived a stroke, and embraced their new being with positivity, courage and determination.
We’re still battling to raise awareness of childhood stroke. One child a day is diagnosed in the UK, with many more strokes in children and babies being missed. Please keep spreading the word!!
My congratulations to all the well-deserved winners – and to the multitude of people who were nominated but didn’t make the final cut. All are worthy of recognition. Huge thanks to The Stroke Association and their Patron, Baroness Karren Brady, for inviting me – and to Toni Mascolo of Toni & Guy (who cut my hair a couple of years ago!); as the evening’s headline sponsor, he made the night happen.
Andy Bell wrote this with Vince Clarke in 1988; seems appropriate now. “And if I should falter, would you open your arms out to me? We can make love, not war – and live at peace in our hearts… Oh baby please give a little respect to me.”
Everyone deserves respect, especially those who find it harder to make themselves understood. The Stroke Association’s current campaign is ‘Lost for Words’ and aims to raise awareness of the communication difficulties many stroke survivors suffer. If you’d like to help make a difference to people’s lives, please donate by texting STROKE AWARDS to 70500 to donate £5. Thank you.