Congratulations to Katie Ryan-Palmer, the winner of our 2023 Christmas card competition, with her beautiful ‘Reindeer in the Snow’ design. 

Illustration of deer walking in the snow

Katie, 25, was getting ready to begin the second year of her architecture degree when she had a subarachnoid haemorrhage in August 2018, aged 20. She was in an induced coma for 16 days following her stroke. 

With drawing forming a core part of her studies, Katie found herself turning to art as a source of therapy and healing as she started her recovery. 

“I drew a little prior to the stroke,” says Katie. “However, I was not as quick to reach for a sketchbook when explaining anything or as free with a pen or pencil as I have been since and am now. 

“After my stroke creating art was one of the only outlets where I felt I could participate without making a mistake or requiring correction. 

“Creating is liberating and healing. It has encouraged me to express who I am inside and provided me with a voice at times when explaining myself wasn’t easy.” 

Katie smiling at the camera

Katie was determined to return to university. With the support of her family and friends, she has since graduated and is now studying for a Master’s degree in architecture. 

Throughout her recovery, Katie found stroke information and support on the Stroke Association’s social media channels – where she also learned of the Christmas card competition. 

“I decided to enter the competition firstly because I wanted to give something back to the Stroke Association, which has given me so much reassurance through social media and the website when I have had questions and worries,” says Katie. “Secondly, I wanted to tell the story of my experience in the hope that I could inspire other people – especially young people.” 

For Katie, the image of the reindeer in her Christmas card design represents the importance of support networks for stroke survivors. 

“To me, the togetherness of the reindeer symbolised a stroke survivor and supporter,” she says. “I know that I would not be where I am today, post stroke, without all of mine. United, the reindeer represent a celebration of the nameless army of people who aid stroke survivors in their recovery.” 

Do you have a passion for art?

Find out how you can enter the 2024 stroke survivor Christmas card competition.

Order your Christmas cards

All of our lovely cards, including Katie’s brilliant ‘Reindeer in the Snow’ design, are available from our Christmas shop

Stroke News magazine

This article is featured in the summer 2023 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.