In 2012 a stroke didn’t just rob Stuart of movement and sight, it threatened to take away the freedom to enjoy the hobbies he loved.
Life before stroke was full of activity for Stuart. He enjoyed motorbikes, playing badminton and was very active in the garden. Left unable to stand, walk and use his left hand, his sight was also badly affected and it seemed at first as though his days as a keen gardener might be over.
That was until Stuart was introduced to Thrive. The "Life after Stroke" programme at Thrive Birmingham is a 12-week course with a practical focus on learning new ways to tackle everything from propagation and potting on to pruning shrubs, harvesting fruit and creating hanging baskets. Being in a wheelchair didn’t stop Stuart from doing all of it!
Working alongside a trained Horticultural Therapist who has the insight and knowledge to work to the strengths of the individual, the group are shown completely different techniques for a myriad of gardening tasks each week. They are also encouraged to log their achievements to use as a reference for working at home.
"I now feel inspired to help my wife create a beautiful garden at home which we are adding new things to on a weekly basis. I’m also hoping to get back in touch with old friends as I now have something other than my stroke to talk about."
For Stuart, Thrive represents so much more than purely gardening activity. It’s an opportunity to meet people and build friendships, a chance to enjoy beautiful surroundings and work as part of a team. Most importantly perhaps, he says he now feels able to try things out and not give up at the first hurdle.
"The team at Thrive helped me realise that the stroke is over, but life isn’t."
If you would like to make a donation to help more people like Stuart who are stroke survivors, please click here.