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National news

Words from Amber Garland:

So, I don’t know how to begin. The simple truth is, I had multiple strokes when I was 19 and now I’m determined to live my life as fulfilling, positively and successfully as I can be.

I’m now 28 and I am an ambassador for the Stroke Association. I have aphasia so it is difficult to communicate, but I practice a lot.                                       

I have been volunteering for almost seven years and I love it! A day in my life could be taking blood pressures, doing presentations, buddying up with a stroke survivor, helping with raffle prizes, and even bucket shaking.

I think the best thing for me is presenting to sixth form students, especially as I was 19 years old so I relate to that, and I learnt my presentations off by heart.

The reason for involving myself with our charity is so it gives me purpose and to change people’s lives. To make a difference and help people get through shared stories. I want to do something like the Stroke Association and volunteering gives me focus on my goals.

Last year, I won the Life After Stroke Awards for volunteering. I asked my brother, Jamie, and my dad, Mark, to go with me. I gave an emotional speech as I talked about my mum who passed away two and half years ago from motor neurones disease. I blubbered but got a standing ovation. 

Last December, I was also part of a campaign for Barclays bank where I did a photoshoot and learnt a script to make people aware of people with aphasia.

More recently, last Thursday in fact, I went to the Queen’s garden party, which was superb. I asked Auntie Vanessa to go with me and it was fantastic. I actually fell over at the entrance to Buckingham Palace so our first stop was to first aid, but then we queued for food – it was a tiny plate! I did see the Queen and Prince William but never got close enough.

Finally, I can’t describe one word for being a volunteer. It’s too great to describe. It means every single thing. It’s the reason for being there for stroke survivors, carers and the staff that I love.