Courage celebrated

Helen Clark from Alnmouth, seen with her husband Ray, receives her award from  Charlie Charlton from BBC Radio Newcastle and John  Grundy.
Helen Clark from Alnmouth, seen with her husband Ray, receives her award from Charlie Charlton from BBC Radio Newcastle and John Grundy.

The longest-serving member of a north Northumberland stroke club has received a prestigious award from The Stroke Association.

Helen Clark, from Alnmouth, who had a stroke at the age of 44, received an award for courage at a ceremony in Gateshead.

She was nominated by Alnwick Stroke Club, which meets every Tuesday in the town. It was started by WRVS in 1979 for anyone who had a stroke in north Northumberland.

The award citation concluded that ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is surely Helen’s signature tune’.

It said: “Helen is our longest serving member. When she suffered her stroke, at the age of 44, she had a nine-year-old son, Gary, who had Perthes disease. Gary is now happily married.

“Before her stroke Helen sang in a band – The Edinburgh Sapphires.

“Despite speech therapy, she is still unable to speak but makes herself understood by using her fingers for counting etc. and facial expressions.

“Mention her son Gary, her loving husband Ray or anything Scottish and you will get a thumbs up.

“Most of the time, Helen is in a wheelchair, but can walk short distances with a walking frame.

“She is in charge of the card game Uno with up to four members and two volunteers playing.

“When our ‘exercising in your chair’ is happening, Helen (together with Ivor, who also can’t speak) instructs us in up and down with hand exercises.

“When we are singing songs, Helen knows them all and joins in as best she can. She is enthusiastic in everything she does.”

“When Helen is on holiday or not attending because she is under the weather, she is greatly missed.”