News roundup: August 2022

woman reading newspaper while standing

Our monthly news roundup for August features information about new services, some medical updates and a bit about weddings.

New services

To start this month, we wanted to share some of the new services and resources we heard about in August. 

New "Easy Read" factsheets on AbilityNet 

AbilityNet is a charity that helps people of all ages and abilities access digital technology. They offer free tech support and information.  

In August, they released a new range of "Easy Read" versions of some of their most popular factsheets. This includes their guide to Keyboard and Mouse Alternatives and Communication Aids. The "Easy Read" format uses short, jargon-free sentences. They feature simple, clear images to help explain the content. 

You can find their factsheets by clicking this link. 

Great Western Railway (GWR) Travel Confidence Training 

The Stroke Association was recently contacted by Great Western Railway. Their Accessibility Mentors wanted to let us know about a free service that helps people feel more confident travelling by train. 

They have two services called Travel Training and Try-a-Train. Mentors guide participants through navigating a station, buying a ticket and even taking a short train trip.  

It is available across the whole Great Western Railway network. If you are interested in this service, please contact the GWR accessibility mentors at

Free blood pressure tests on the High Street  

There is an  NHS scheme that offers free blood pressure testing at high street pharmacies. These tests are available to everyone over the age of 40 who has not previously had a confirmed diagnosis of high blood pressure  

The scheme actually started back in October last year. But a recent news article in the Daily Mail brought it to people's attention in August.  

The NHS hopes that the scheme could prevent as many as 5,500 heart attacks and 8,140 strokes. This could save as many as 4,400 lives over the next five years. 

Cornwall Emotional Support Service  

A new emotional support service launched in Cornwall back in April. This service provides support for the emotional impact of stroke. It has been funded for five years by the Elwyn Thomas Memorial fund. 

The service provides individual counselling sessions and the opportunity to meet other stroke survivors and share experiences. 

You can read more about the service here

Survivor stories

Earlier in August on ITV's Emmerdale the character of Marlon Dingle, played by Mark Charnock, got married. This was particularly poignant following the character's stroke in March, just as he proposed to his long-time partner Rhona.  

Unsurprisingly, several news sites followed the episode with stories of real-life weddings.  

“Like Emmerdale’s Marlon, my stroke didn’t stop me getting married”  
Sarah Gardner was 34 when she had her stroke and due to get married a few months later. The wedding was postponed and Sarah began planning a very different wedding as part of her recovery.  

“For me it wasn’t about the wedding, it was just so important for me to be able to say my vows to Darren as we got married and I did without faltering once.” 

Sarah Gardner, stroke survivor

You can read more about Sarah's story on ATV Today. 

"I am determined to walk down the aisle" 
Jay Johnson of Fife had two strokes when he was 44. He met his fiancée Sarah a few years later, after a long and emotional recovery journey.  

The pair plan to have a quiet, stress-free wedding surrounded by friends and family.  

“The past few years of my life have been like a movie script. I want to tell my story to show people who are in that dark place that I was that things do get better.” 

Jay Johnson, stroke survivor

Read more about Jay and Sarah's story on The Scottish Sun. 

Medical news

Finally, we'll wrap up the August news roundup with a few bits of medical news: 

  • A study compiling results from over 20 other research papers found that swapping salt for low-sodium substitutes reduces the risk of stroke. It also protects against other heart conditions. Read more on the The Daily Mail
  • Scientists may have discovered why you feel exhausted after mental exertion. They found that a potentially toxic neurotransmitter builds up in the brain when you do a lot of mental work. The brain will then slow down to manage this build up, leading to feelings of tiredness. You can find out more about this research on The Guardian
  • New research suggests that your gut microbes may play a bigger role in both stroke and stroke recovery than previously thought. Dr Clare Jonas, research communications and engagement lead at the Stroke Association, said: "There's still a lot to do to understand the role these bacteria play in stroke, but this work lays the basis for possible future treatments.” Read more on Patient Info

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