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Norfolk stroke survivor adds his voice to Lost for Words campaign

PUBLISHED: 08:22 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 17 November 2017

Janice Barnston and her husband, David, who had a stroke in 2011. Picture: Stroke Association

Janice Barnston and her husband, David, who had a stroke in 2011. Picture: Stroke Association

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A stroke survivor from Norwich has joined the Stroke Association's Lost for Words campaign.

David Barnston, 74, had a stroke in 2011 that left him with communication difficulties stemming from a condition called aphasia, which inhibits sufferers’ ability to talk, understand, read and write.

Mr Barnston’s wife, Janice, has been by his side throughout his long and challenging journey.

She said: “Initially, as well as being unable to talk, read or write, David was also severely dyspraxic. This meant he was unable to coordinate basic tasks such as making a cup of tea.

“I was determined to help David. As soon as he was home from hospital, I started daily exercises with him to help improve his speech. We owe a lot of thanks to the help we received from the hospital’s early discharge team, and the speech and language department at the local community hospital too.”

By joining the Lost for Words campaign, Mr Barnston is hoping to raise awareness of the challenges stroke survivors can face, particularly in terms of communication.

Mrs Barnston says she is proud of the marked improvements her husband has made since first having the stroke.

She said: “Having aphasia can be very isolating, David loved to speak to people and I didn’t want him to feel trapped in his own home.

“He has made huge improvements and I’m so proud of him. He now chats to the postman about football using his iPad, he uses the bus, and meets his friends at the pub. David also volunteers as an ‘aphasia expert’ at the University of East Anglia, helping students to understand more about the condition.

“David is a real inspiration in my eyes. He remains good humoured and gets on with life.”

More than 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia, and the Stroke Association is urging people to show their support for stroke survivors by making donations at www.stroke.org.uk/lostforwords.

Sara Betsworth, head of stroke support at the Stroke Association, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like David have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating. But with the right help and support, many stroke survivors are able to find new ways to communicate, and can rebuild their lives.”

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