A WOMAN who was told she could stammer before she could talk has spoken about how she overcame the debilitating problem, which has been brought into the spotlight by Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech.
Evelyn Hume, 35, was unable to say her name without stuttering, lacked confidence and shied away from social events.
Her mum told her she could stammer before she could talk properly and despite speech therapy, the impediment stayed with her throughout her schooling.
But eight years ago at the age of 27, the Beadnell woman decided it was time to make a change and she enrolled on a programme designed to help people overcome the problem.
And with film The King’s Speech highlighting to the world how difficult it can be to live with a stammer and how King George VI overcame his to give a radio broadcast rallying his country, Evelyn spoke about her’s.
The stammer meant she had low confidence through her school years when she was a pupil at Seahouses Middle School and The Duchess’s Community High School.
She said: “It was really bad. When I was at school it was just out of control. Every speaking situation was a nightmare. Reading in class or having to speak in assembly was horrific.
“It just stopped me doing things. I lacked confidence terribly. Mr Todd was headteacher at the high school at the time and taught me for English. He encouraged me a bit and engaged me at school.
“As a result of that I was able to go to university at Sunderland and did teacher training. But again it was all speaking and that was more trauma.
“The problem was that you never know if what you want to say is going to come out. You think the thoughts in your head but might say something completely different and end up making no sense.”
She managed to get through university despite her difficulties and got a job working as a teacher at Ponteland First School. But the stammer continued.
“At the age of 27 I was really, really struggling,” she said.
“I just thought I was going to have to get another job, I thought I wasn’t able to teach. All I wanted to do was to read through a whole story to the children.”
But instead of giving up, Evelyn found the McGuire programme which teaches people with speech impediments to learn different techniques to get words out without stuttering.
“It has changed my life,” she said.
“I will never look back. Most of the time now my speech is under control. Even just saying my name before was really hard. I would just clam up. Getting on a bus or train was an ordeal because of the stammer. I remember once trying to order a tuna sandwich and the words just wouldn’t come out.
“I used to avoid social situations, I never went to the Holly Ball at high school and it had a massive impact on my social life.
“People who don’t stammer have no idea how hard it is. But The King’s Speech has really brought it to the forefront. People that I work with now understand that everything I say I have to think about.
“Everyone has seen a massive change in me.”