Portsmouth stroke survivor welcomes launch of support group

Chris Bristol, from Portsmouth, is a member of a new stroke survivor's group after he survived five mini strokes.  Picture: Stroke Association
Chris Bristol, from Portsmouth, is a member of a new stroke survivor's group after he survived five mini strokes. Picture: Stroke Association
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A MAN who survived five mini strokes has welcomed the launch of a new support group.

Somerstown Central Community Centre, in Portsmouth, will host the fortnightly sessions created by the Stroke Association.

I think joining the Southsea stroke group will be a chance for me to give back to others, and thank the NHS and Stroke Association for all they’ve done for me

Chris Bristol

One person who will be attending the stroke survivor group is dad-of-two Chris Bristol.

The 48-year-old, from Portsmouth, survived five mini strokes, known as transient ischaemic attack (TIA), in September 2016.

The stroke affected movement in the right and left-hand side of his body and left him with problems communicating called aphasia.

Chris was unable to speak or swallow for two weeks and his memory was also severely affected.

He said: ‘Having a stroke was the scariest time of my life.

‘Within a day, I felt like I’d lost everything. I couldn’t speak, read, write or remember anything.

‘I had to learn everything again from scratch.’

Chris praised the team at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, for the treatment they gave him as well as the charity Stroke Association for their support.

He added: ‘I really do believe that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital, the Stroke Association, and my supportive family and friends.

‘I feel so lucky to have had so much love and support in my recovery.

‘It’s helped me to get back on my feet and tackle life after stroke.’

The Stroke Association will be holding the meetings every fortnight and held their first at the Somerstown Central Community Centre cafe on Wednesday.

The sessions will be at 10.30am and has been created for people from Portsmouth to meet fellow stroke survivors and share their experiences.

Chris said: ‘I think joining the Southsea stroke group will be a chance for me to give back to others, and thank the NHS and Stroke Association for all they’ve done for me.

‘I’m looking forward to meeting local stroke survivors who have been or who are going through, a journey similar to mine.

‘I hope to be able to inspire others, give advice from my experience and hear from other stroke survivors.’

Figures from the Stroke Association show there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year; that is around one stroke every five minutes.

There are more than 1.2m people in the country living with the effects of stroke.

The charity works with stroke survivors and their families along with researchers, clinicians and social care professionals. They campaign for improved care but also fund research.

Venita Symmons, support co-ordinator at the Stroke Association, said: ‘Our new support group will be a much-needed place for local stroke survivors and their families to come together and support each other.

‘Stroke is life-changing, but the charity’s work, such as this new social group, can really make a difference to lives of stroke survivors.

‘It’s hugely important that stroke survivors feel supported in their community throughout their road to recovery.’

For more information about the support group, which will next meet on January 31, email Venita at venita.Symmons@stroke.org.uk.