BALLOONS and birthday cake were the order of the day as a support group celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Havant Stroke Club started in March, 1984 to provide a listening ear and a helping hand to people affected by the often debilitating condition.
Every week people meet at Bedhampton Social Hall and enjoy a natter, bingo and a raffle, as well as therapeutic activities such as exercises and calming music.
One of the original members was Sandra Roberts, 65, who ramped up the party atmosphere yesterday by wearing a St Patrick’s Day outfit.
She had a stroke at the age of 34.
‘I was in a DIY shop in Waterlooville,’ said Sandra, who lives in Denmead.
‘I thought somebody had shot me. It was a brain haemorrhage. I was under a lot of stress at the time.’
Sandra lay in a coma for five days and when she did wake up she was paralysed down the left side.
The mum-of-two has recovered to some degree, but the stroke affects her life as she has not been able to work or drive.
The stroke club has been one of her lifelines.
‘It’s lovely to see a club flourishing in the community,’ she said.
‘I feel safe here.’
Pam Plaisted, 86, from Bedhampton, had a minor stroke in 2012 and loves the group sessions.
She said: ‘It’s such a happy group. It’s the best club I have ever been to.’
Another member, Ted Usher, 78, from Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s brilliant. Everybody is in the same boat.’
Over the years the club has been based at the former Oak Park School and Staunton School.
Chris Sharpe, a retired nurse who organises the group, said they were planning a trip to Stansted House next month and a trip to Birdworld later in the year.
‘We always say laughter is the best medicine,’ she said.
The group is looking for volunteer drivers to take people to and from the sessions. Call (023) 9229 4395.