Young stroke survivors find support to pursue ambitions

Pam Mills

It was established this year by Lisa Beaumont, who suffered a catastrophic brain haemorrhage in 2011 at the age of 44 and remains paralysed down one side of her body.

The mother of two teenage daughters, who lives in the town, said: “It’s a time when you’ve got a lot of your life ahead of you, and you still have ambitions.

“All of us have a couple of decades ahead when we might be able to do useful things.

“You are still living your life. It doesn’t take away what you did before.”

Lisa was formerly Marketing Manager at Trinity Theatre and is credited with turning its fortunes around when it was facing closure.

Now she is determined to help fellow ‘survivors’ to get on with their lives.

She said: “I really relied on the Different Strokes Facebook group for peer support. We don’t have a local group here, so I decided to do it myself.

“I want to make my own experience as useful as possible to others. Given everything that I’ve had to go through, I thought it would be good to share it with others.”

The meetings are held at Headway West Kent in Culverden Park. The charity, which supports adults affected by brain or head injury, has donated the use of the venue free of charge.

The group discuss their experiences and the support services that are available to them, creating a ‘directory’ to help them make progress.

“Sharing information is what it’s about,” said Lisa. “One of our attendees has started going along to hydrotherapy at Burrswood after I suggested it to him.”

Lauren McMillan, Marketing Co-ordinator for Different Strokes, visited the meetings and said: “Lisa has worked tirelessly to establish a local support group.

“Using her experience in marketing, the group is growing steadily and establishing great relationships with related parties in the West Kent area. We feel very lucky to have her on board.”

There are regular guest speakers to address related topics, such as specialist neuro-physiotherapists Jane Cast and Elissa Benson of Neuro Rehabilitation Kent in Sevenoaks.

Tracey Campbell, a family homeopath from Lingfield, came along and talked about natural remedies for pain relief.

David Thorpe, a former member of television’s Time Team of archeologists, said: “This group is the only chance I have to meet people in a similar situation to mine, it helps me to feel less isolated.”

Another group member, Tarquin Gillespie, said: “It’s encouraging to find a group of people who’ve had similar experiences and who are young, too.”

A report published by Public Health England earlier this year showed that the number of younger people suffering and surviving strokes is increasing.

The proportion of first-time strokes suffered by 40 to 69 year olds has risen from 33 per cent to 38 per cent in the past decade.

The lead stroke nurse at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Victoria Williams, is enthusiastic about the venture.

She told the Times: “A local support group is an excellent way for younger stroke survivors to meet and talk to other people who are in a similar situation, share their experiences and receive peer support.”

For more information about the group, telephone 0345 307172 or email:

PICTURE: HELP ON THE WAY: The group with (right) Lisa Beaumont and guest speaker Tracey Campbell PHOTO: Claire Reader/Capture Me Happy

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