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People Profile – Neil Charman Artist and Musician

Neil has been a Cranleigh resident for the past 20 years and lives with his wife, Kathryn, and one of three sons. Despite having worked as an advanced practitioner in radiography at the RSCH in
Guildford for many years, he has always had a creative streak, and loved drawing and painting too. Neil divided his time between radiography, painting, and playing in the local band he belonged to.

In 2009, however, he sadly suffered a major stroke which left him with right sided paralysis, aphasia, loss of speech, and dyspraxia.

When the stroke happened, his wife was at work and Neil was at home, sick, with a chest infection. His constant bouts of violent coughing damaged an artery in his neck, which in turn, caused the stroke. Neil managed to get out of bed before he collapsed.

When Kathryn got home, and found him lying on the floor, she thought he was dead.

The stroke left Neil unable to read and write. He spent months in a rehabilitation unit in Haslemere hospital, just to be able to stand and walk a few steps. Kathryn recalls how frustrated his inability made him, “I’d never seen Neil cry” she reminisces, “As he struggled to sit up in bed, you could see from the look on his face that the implications of his stroke had hit him.”

After 7 months had passed, Neil was allowed home, enabled through the help of local Cranleigh Lions who built him a ramp, and kindly bought him a laptop to continue his visual therapy.
Friends also quickly came to the rescue, installing a path to the front door. After some time, Neil began to doodle again, and about 2-3 years after the initial stroke, began to properly draw again.

With the help of another charity of retired engineers, and the equipment they provided for him, Neil was able to make progress by starting to remake glass beads, one-handed. Slowly, he started playing his guitar and harmonica again, with the encouragement of his musical friends. One friend in particular made a specially adapted slide guitar for him to play.

Neil has also attended speech therapy, initially with a local talk group, but then later at Dyscover in Walton on the Hill, which he attended once a week. This amazing charity helps younger people with speech therapy, following strokes. Enabling them to re-engage with society and build up their confidence in their interaction with the outside world. Neil’s biggest frustration is his inability to
express himself.

It can take hours to work out what he is trying to say, but Kathryn doesn’t give up.

She feels that this tragedy has brought them closer together as a couple, and they see themselves as a “stroke couple”.

They are now spending much more time which each other as Kathryn cares for him.

Years later, Neil was able to talk about his out of body experience, dying on the bedroom floor that day. He spoke about entering a warm and peaceful place that felt more real than the bedroom he’d left behind. His experience has reaffirmed their faith and neither of them fear death as a result.

With the help of so many wonderful people and charities, Neil now enjoys a full and well-rounded life, and is an inspiration to those around him. His wish is to inspire others in a similar situation to never give up and look for what you can achieve, rather than focusing on what you are no longer able to do. After years of post-stroke stickmen, Neil is now able to create beautiful pieces of art.

Neil plans to sell his remarkable artwork in the form of greetings cards and pictures, in order to repay the people and charities that helped him.

“Thank you people of Cranleigh for all your help and support.”

Neil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Above: A drawing of Neil’s band, a group of middle aged men, who called themselves ‘Waistband’ because of their expanding waistlines!)

For more information about Neil’s journey and his artwork contact:
or telephone 01483 273134.

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