A mother-of-two from Croxley Green, who suffered a stroke two years ago, has set up a new support group for those who have been affected by the condition.
On July 2, 2012, Julie Lesslie woke up in her Manor Way home and collapsed as she was walking between the bedroom and bathroom.
Her husband, who was downstairs at the time, found her a few minutes later and called an ambulance.
Mrs Lesslie spent the next three months in hospital, receiving extensive rehabilitation treatment to help with the movement of the right side of her body, which had been left completely paralysed.
The stroke was a result of a 13mm hole in her heart.
Upon leaving hospital, the 48-year-old could not find much support for those who had suffered a stroke and who were younger than retirement age.
Mrs Lesslie said: “I didn’t know anyone of my age who’d had a stroke. You expect it of older people, not those of my age.”
Mrs Lesslie, who established Different Strokes Exercise Group in March, struggles to write, tires easily and has unpredicatable speech.
The group meets for an hour once a week at All Saints’ Church, in The Green, and participate in an exercise class with an Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury (ARNI) instructor for 30 minutes.
The remaining half an hour is used as time for members to talk over a cup of tea.
Mrs Lesslie has received some funding from national charity Different Strokes, but needs to raise more for the group to meet regularly.
She said: “We need more people to come to the group and we also need to fundraise to keep it going. Whatever people can give would be really appreciated. It’s important as there isn’t anything else like this in the area.”
Mrs Lesslie said the group allows those affected by a stroke to support one another. However, she has been surprised by how few younger people have suffered a stroke.
She said: “I’m just wondering where everyone is. I can’t be the only person who has had a stroke in Croxley, but I haven’t met many others. The main thing is to let people know anyone can have a stroke and the group is here to support those who might not know where to turn.”
Mrs Lesslie used to work as a personal assistant to the former headteacher of Rickmansworth School, but left in order to concentrate on her recovery.
She added: “I would love to work but what can I do? I’m right handed and that is the side most affected. I really miss working but I’m keen to establish this group in Croxley Green and welcome new members.”
To find out more about the charity, send an email to croxleygreen@ differentstrokes.co.uk.