Stammering Support Centre opening

Reginald Centre, Stammering Support Centre

At last! The opening of the Leeds Stammering Support Centre

After a great campaign we now have an amazing Stammering Support Centre for the north of England, right here in Leeds. At the start of 2012, the Kings Speech hit the cinema screens. That film, and Colin Firth’s Oscar-winning performance, have done more to advance the understanding of stammering than anything in my lifetime. Suddenly everyone was talking about stammering which is profoundly liberating for the thousands of children and adults, like myself, across Britain who deal with it every day.

People often think the best way to support a child with a stammer is to help them finish the words they are struggling to say themselves. Yet, it’s the worst thing anyone can do. The key is to give children the space and confidence to speak in their own way, and talk about what works for them.

For some time, we’ve had the brilliant Michael Palin Centre for stammering children in North London.  But if you have a stammer in the north of England or if you needed help for a child who stammers, it was a 300 mile round trip which made accessing help and support prohibitive to many families. No more. The Leeds Stammering Support Centre is a friendly place in the bright and airy Reginald Building in the heart of Chapeltown. The staff, led by consultant Dr Trudy Stewart, are a fantastic team, dedicated to providing support to those who stammer.

It was a real honour to attend the official opening with Mr Speaker himself conducting the ceremony. We heard from Michael, a 29 year old who overcome his fears to address the great and the good at the ceremony. Seven and a half year old Thomas Gratoni-May and his Dad, Gerald. Thomas stepped up too. Thomas told us how his teachers used to tell him to hurry up and finished his sentences for him but now, thanks to the Centre, he’s getting the help and support he needs. All three did really brilliant speeches, showing the impact of expert help and support.

No one should be held back because of their speech, disability or special need. Back in February I hoped The King’s Speech would inspire children and adults who stammer to get the help they deserve. Now that help and support is there right here in Leeds. I’m really proud to have played a part in making it happen.

My favourite scene in The King’s Speech – the real moment of triumph – comes when Lionel Logue and the King are reviewing his final performance. ‘You still stammered on the “W”,’ says the therapist. The King replies: ‘Well I had to throw in a few so they knew it was me.’

I know I will never be ‘cured’ of my stammer. But I no longer feel worried about it and I would rather joke about it than hide it. It’s part of who I am.

You can contact the Stammering Support Centre on 0113 8434331 or via the email addresss stammeringsupportcentre@nhs.net.

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Posted December 5th, 2011 by Ed