AMATEUR dramatics enthusiast John Trower was left without speech and with no use in his right arm following a stroke which thrust him into a world of frustration.
His successful business as a driving instructor came to an immediate end, his driving licence was withdrawn and, unable to speak for the next two years, his outlook seemed bleak.
Determined to pick up the pieces, John began using his left arm, making doodles and drawings before venturing into water colours – and now his efforts have won him a national award and an exhibition.
There was a huge cheer for John as he stepped forward to receive the Susie Hulks Memorial Award at a Stroke Association awards evening at Claridges Hotel, in London.
He said: “I used to be so mobile. I had my own business as a driving instructor and I’d also teach people drama and we’d put on plays.
“You would not believe it to see me now, although there have been improvements.
“My speech, although very stilted, has gradually come back – but it takes so long to get the words the right way round in my head before I can even think about saying them,” said John, who now lives at Southfields, Downham, and is a regular member of the No 13 art group which meets at the Conservative Club.
“I’m not good at speaking, but painting is a wonderful way of expressing my thoughts and it has become a huge part of my life – I have many paintings at home – and I’ve got my driving licence back again, too.”
John is also a member of the Downham Stroke Support Group and led a few painting sessions at the club after members saw his work.
“We asked members to bring along things they had made as a hobby,” said volunteer Tracie Gotheridge, who felt John’s work needed to be on display. She approached Bluebells, a tearoom and florists, in Priory Road, where owners Tim and Patricia Cordy agreed to show his work and the exhibition continues for a few more weeks.
“What people don’t seem to realise is that when a person has had a stroke they may lose their speech and use of a limb, but they don’t lose their intelligence,” said Tracie.
“John is an inspiration to the group and, for a right-handed person to take up painting with their left hand and win a big national award for their efforts, is amazing. We are all so proud of him and he more than deserves this exhibition.”