Bid to set up Norwich stroke group for younger sufferers

Dan GrimmerA woman whose husband suffered a stroke at the age of 57 is aiming to set up a city branch of a charity to offer support to younger stroke survivors and their families.Dan Grimmer

A woman whose husband suffered a stroke at the age of 57 is aiming to set up a city branch of a charity to offer support to younger stroke survivors and their families.

Wendy Dubbin discovered her husband Alan on the floor of their Dereham Road home four months ago following a devastating stroke.

As a trained nurse Mrs Dubbin recognised the symptoms and immediately called the emergency services and Mr Dubbin, a grandfather of three, is now making a gradual recovery.

However it made her realise how little support there is for people under the age of 65 who have suffered strokes.

Now she is determined to set up a Norwich branch of Different Strokes to provide much-needed support, advice and activities.

Mrs Dubbin, also 57 and now a lecturer at the UEA, said: 'My husband's stroke was like a bolt out of the blue. He was fit and healthy and suddenly he keeled over.

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'It was a shock to the whole family and we are still trying to deal with it. He is making steady progress and physically he is absolutely fine but he suffers from memory loss and has problems with concentration.

'While the care he has received has been good I found there are a lot of services which cater for older people. Everyone assumes strokes just hit people who are in their sixties or seventies but they can strike anyone which is why I want to raise more awareness.'

Mr Dubbin is under the care of the stroke early discharge team run by NHS Norfolk and he is having physiotherapy.

The couple discovered that when some one over 65 has a stroke they are seem by a stroke specialist but some one under 65 gets referred to neurology consultant, who care for a wide range of head injuries and conditions.

Mrs Dubbin said: 'It means there is not enough stroke specialist care for those under 65 and I want to change that. Strokes leave people feeling isolated and depressed and it is so important that victims and their families have others to talk to.

'My two children have been a great support but it is important to speak to other families who have suffered strokes. This group will meet regularly and for about two hours.

'Half will be exercise, as it is very important that stroke survivors do the right exercises, and the rest will be social - chatting, support and advice - all of it to help families who have been hit by stroke.'

Different Strokes is a national charity with branches across the country. There is one in Sheringham but not in Norwich or the surrounding area.

Stroke occurs when a vessel that brings blood to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot. Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol overuse. A stroke can leave brain cells damaged or destroyed, affecting body functions. For example, if a stroke damages the part of the brain that controls how limbs move, the person will have difficulty moving their arms.

An N&N spokesman said: 'Stroke is the third largest cause of death in the UK and the biggest cause of disability. Many people do not understand what a stroke is and they also don't know what the danger signs are. About 100,000 people a year have a stroke in this country and about 10 per cent of them will be younger than retirement age.'

An initial meeting to see how much local interest there is for the new group will be held on Wednesday May 5 at 7.30pm in Room 4, opposite Gunthorpe Ward at the N&N.

For more information call Mrs Dubbin on 07860 966635 or log onto