I had a serious stroke on Monday 16th July 2006 whist driving to Torquay at about 7.30am. It seemed to happen very slowly yet I had no control of the car and my passenger pulled the steering wheel over towards the curb and pulled the hand brake up. The next thing I remember was sitting in an ambulance with no movement in my left hand and leg, slurred speech and a very dry mouth. I was taken to Torbay Hospital for tests, scans and ultra sounds. I can’t remember anything for the next few days. I spent the next few weeks in hospital coming to terms with the fact that life was never going to be the same again.
I was then transferred to Newton Abbot Hospital for full time physiotherapy during August and finally sent home in a wheelchair. During the next few months I spent at home alone most of the day. I felt quite trapped so I then made attempts to get out of the wheel chair. I fell over, got back in, got out, fell over, got back in and so on until I got out and didn’t fall over.
I started walking around the house stumbling from chair to chair. By the next spring I started stumbling around the garden and wandering onto the street. All that summer I spent sitting in the garden, weather permitting, or in the conservatory on rainy days reading. The following year the doctor put me on a course of physiotherapy at the local gym which I found helped with my balance and confidence. Speaking to my neighbor one day he suggested that I try sailing with some disability group. I spoke to one of the instructors at the gym the following week. The following weekend I found myself at Noss Marina joining Dart Sailability. I had never sailed prior to this and found the very thought quite frightening but went ahead. I was hooked! I sail in the summer and help maintain the boats in winter, so I have a year round activity. With all the help, advice and encouragement from the volunteers it has made my life not only more confident, but I’ve been taught how to sail solo on the Dart. I can’t ever begin to express my gratitude and thanks to all of the Dart Sailability volunteers for their care, consideration, understanding and above all the confidence that they have shown and I hope this very special organisation goes from strength to strength in the future helping many others like me.