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Stroke survivor conquers sponsored walk to thank staff for their care

Alan and a large group of staff

A stroke survivor has finished off a sponsored walk on the ward where staff cared for him and helped him re-learn how to walk.

Alan Hardie was rushed to Morriston Hospital by ambulance last October.

The 56-year-old, from Swansea, was left unable to move the right side of his body and had to train himself to be able to walk again.

Now, he has walked the equivalent length of Hadrian’s Wall to raise money for the staff who supported him during his rehabilitation.

Pictured above: Alan with staff on Ward F.

“It came out of the blue,” he said.

“I was blue-lighted to Morriston Hospital. They had to control my blood pressure as it was very high and I had some slurred speech but my main concern was I couldn’t move my right side.

“It was an enormously difficult time.

“One minute you’re active and then you’re completely dependent on other people and can’t move.”

Alan was taken to Ward F at Morriston Hospital where staff spent around a month supporting him with his rehabilitation.

At one point he was having three physiotherapy sessions a day to aid his recovery.

Alan walking with his wife and member of staff

He added: “I was kept on the rehabilitation ward for about a month.

“The staff there provided physical support but also psychological support too. They were just brilliant.

“They noticed when I was down and built me back up. They used to take me off the ward too for a morale boost.”

Alan was eventually able to return home, under the care of the early discharge team, made up of physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Pictured: Alan completed his challenge alongside his wife Kathy and physiotherapist Andrew Finnegan.

“They built on what had been done while I was in hospital,” he said.

“The walking side of my rehabilitation took off a bit then. They would take me on walks near my home.

“My wife Kathy is a physiotherapy assistant practitioner so was also able to help me by bringing in elements of her work.

“Initially I had quite a lot of problems with walking. My right foot would turn the wrong way and my leg would be shaking.”

While on his walks, Alan decided to set himself the challenge of virtually walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall.

Over several months he clocked up more and more miles each day, with the aim of reaching the full 90 miles.

He said: “I had started virtual walk challenges a couple of years ago.

“I wanted to set myself one that was challenging but not too far so I chose Hadrian’s Wall as it’s close to where I grew up.

“When I first started off I could only do around one third or half a mile each day of walking.

“But now I’m up to three quarters of a mile to a mile each day.

“It started as a way of motivating myself to get outside but then I thought I would like to raise money by doing it.

“I can see massive improvements with my walking in the last six months.”

Alan arriving on the ward

Alan completed the final leg of his challenge with a lap of Morriston Hospital, finishing at Ward F where he got to personally thank staff.

He originally aimed to raise £200 for the Ward F fund but eventually raised £1,100 in total.

The Ward F fund is one of hundreds of individual funds that come under the umbrella of Swansea Bay Health Charity.

This is the health board’s official charity. Money raised is used for equipment, staff training, research and special projects for the benefit of our patients and staff, above and beyond what the NHS can provide.

Pictured: Alan crossed the finish line at the entrance to Ward F.

“The challenge has been tiring and uncomfortable at times,” he said.

“I walk with a stick due to muscle weakness and fatigue. Some nerve signals from my brain were destroyed by my stroke.

“Rehabilitation aims to develop new nerve pathways so I can regain some function. I’ve worked hard and I’m getting stronger each day.

“A lot of people think strokes just affect elderly people. I’m part of Swansea Stroke Survivor support group and there are survivors much younger than me. We know individuals can suffer a stroke as teenagers and in their 20s too.

“It can impact many elements of your life, such as family and employment.

“The staff and rehabilitation makes such a difference to so many people.”

Angharad Gavin, physiotherapist for stroke services, said: “It has been a real pleasure getting to know Alan and his wife Kathy, and a privilege to help them on their journey to recovery.

“We were overwhelmed by Alan’s determination to undertake this challenge to help support Ward F in such a tangible and generous way.

“We are really proud of the work we do with our patients. Everything we achieve is the result of the dedication and hard work of the entire Ward F team.

“Thank you Alan – and congratulations on what you’ve achieved.”

Sarah Yeap, Ward F senior sister, said: “All staff on Ward F are extremely proud of Alan’s determination to complete his goal.

“We were all at the finish line to clap and cheer as he crossed it.

“Thank you, Alan, for raising money for Ward F - your help will be greatly received and will be put to very good use."

If this story has inspired you to raise funds for your local NHS then Swansea Bay Health Charity would love to hear from you.

Email the charity team at:

Swansea Bay Health Charity (registered charity number 1122805) is the official charity of Swansea Bay University Health Board.

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Swansea Bay Health Charity

Are you interested in raising money to support NHS services in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot? Did you know that Swansea Bay University Health Board has its own fundraising charity?

Swansea Bay Health Charity supports patients, staff and services within Swansea Bay University Health Board. Visit its webpage here to find out more.

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