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To begin with, uhm, could you tell me a bit about your health issue or your…

Yeah, why I’m here.

Yeah why you’re here, yeah (laughs).

Uhm, I had a stroke, uh, just before the end of the year.


2014. And I was in Addenbrooke’s for, uhm, 16 weeks because I had a stroke.
Uhm, at the end of that period - the next day - I had an epilepsy episode.

Wow. Heavy

Yeah. But, uhm, I feel like every day is a new opportunity really.

Yeah. Ok, cool. Uhm, so after that have you had any more sort of effects from
that. From the epilepsy or anything?

Uhm, yes I - well, uhm, I’ve got no use - or virtually no use - of my right arm.
Uhm, and I have a trouble recalling people’s names. And, uhm, I struggle a bit
to follow discussions in the way that I was used to.

Where…where and when were you born?


Uhm, ‘48. In Clapham, opposite Clapham Common.

In London, yeah.

Yeah, in London. Because my dad was a bus driver and my mum worked in,
uh, a hosiery department in a big store, yeah.

So you grew up in London then?


How was that?

Well, I hadn’t got anything to compare it with…

Yeah, well did you enjoy it?

Uhm, yes. I was usually - actually at school, uhm, branded me as a giggler
because we - I had a special friend called, uhm, Tony.

Tony, yeah.

And, uhm, he and I were sat together and uh, giggled! (laughs)


Giggled (laughs) just non-stop, yeah. So you got labelled as a giggler?


Fair enough. So living in London. Could you…do you think you could do that

Uhm, unlikely because we lived in Great Wilbraham, Cambridge. Uhm, and
we’ve been 28 years just there.

Just there, really?

Yeah, Yeah.

What, your family or yourself?

Uhm, my family, uhm, which comprises of, uhm, my wife, Marilyn and, uhm, 2
sons. And they’ve ended up with 3 grandchildren as well.

3 grandchildren? Lovely. So what brought you to Cambridge from London?

Uhm, my career. I was a Quantity Surveyor at one stage.

Oh wow, yeah.


Uhm, and, uhh…actually it’s a bit of a complex story.

Yeah, no it’s fine.

Uhm, I was employed by the Civil Service. Actually, it was the PSA.

Ohhh ok.

The Property Services Agency. And uhm…I was posted here via… Cyprus.

So, oh ok, so your… employment.

But, uhm, I was posted here because it was the best of what I could do.


Because, uhm, they threatened me with posting me to Newcastle.

Oh, so you’d rather Cambridge?


OK! (laughs)


And that was because they wanted to cut short my posting because I had,
uhm, uhm…


Uhm, a…promotion.

Ohhh ok!

And if they wanted to meet to run out of – uhm, if I’d spent the rest of my term,
uhm, in Cyprus which my family and I loved, uhm, it would be – they would
post me to Newcastle.

Newcastle and you didn’t want that, so you chose Cambridge, yeah. Fair
enough. So you sort of got brought here by your job. Do you remember when
that was?

Mmm. No.

No (laughs). A while back.


So you’ve been in… was it Great Wilbraham you said?



Yeah. So if you’ve been there for 28 years…


So do you - are you still…over there?




So is it all right getting here to there?

Yes, uhm, I get here by my wife driving me here.

Oh that’s nice.

And, well, she enjoys it as well ‘cos we get a partial day free of me.

(laughs) yeah.

So she gets half the day off work?



That’s all right then. What does she do?

Uhm, she looks after me (laughs)

Ohh (laughs). Oh, so she gets the day off work from looking after you?

Uhm, she doesn’t work.

Ok, yeah.

Well, she got her work cut out with me. Uhm, but, uh, I don’t think either of us
have worked for about 5 years. Uhm, I’ve done some voluntary work.

Oh really, where?

Uhm, uh, a bit of counselling.

Oh wow.

Uhm, well, and, uh, that was for ‘The Cogwheel Trust’.



And, uhm, and bits of private counselling that I charge for.

Oh wow.


That’s really really interesting. So, with uhm, that sort of voluntary work and
the private counselling, did, uhm, did that get affected after you had your
stroke or did you choose to stop that?

Yes, it…uhm, I was beginning to fade it out anyway.

Oh, ok.

Uhm, so, the stroke acted as the stimulus for (laughs) fading it out completely.

(laughs) yes, the catalyst yeah, so that sort of…faded it. Do you miss it at all
or are you sort of…done with that chapter?

Uhm, I’m - I was getting towards the end of the job or the hobby. Uhm, so I
didn’t miss it in that way but I’ve got a long-term aspiration to get back into
perhaps even supporting ‘Headway’. Uhm, and…because I have an
understanding of people. Uhm, but at the moment I’m indisposed (laughs).


Yeah, so, with your, what happened it’s obviously hard to like…

Uhm, Stephen, if we go back a little bit to like your early life and stuff
like that. Uhm, growing up in Clapham and stuff like that - did you have
any brothers or sisters?

Yes. A brother, Geoff, whose birthday is today.

Oh lovely.

Yeah. And he spent a lot of his life in the Civil Service. Uhm, and he got so
worried about it he took early retirement and then he, uhm, he got a job as a
magistrate and, uh, that was a voluntary job. Uhm, and, uhm, yeah. Do you
want to know a bit about Geoff?

Yeah that would be great please.

Uhm, yeah. I’ve got a memory of him because I was his older brother and,
uhm, one thing that sticks in my mind definitely, uhm, with - about him is I
got…I think I must have been about 11 and he would have been 8 or
something like that, uhm. He climbed up a tree because he was afraid to get
back to school. And, uh, we were…I …I tried to get him down but I think a
teacher came along. Uhm, and so I was a classic big brother really. Uhm, and
uh, the fact that I know his birthday’s on today I think is a mark of our
brotherliness, yeah.


Excellent. Are you…where does he live now?

Uhm, Sanderstead, Croydon.

Oh, ok.

Yeah. And he’s married to someone from Ireland.

What were your school days like in Clapham?

Uhm, quite good. Uhm, I passed my 11-plus. And, uhm…one of the rooms in
the Secondary School had a painting of ‘The Pilgrims’ Progress’ around the
wall and, uhm, yeah. The - uh, the literary teacher, he said to me, ‘Stephen
you’re a lout and a giggler as well’. And I didn’t feel very keen on the lout term
but I was quite happy to be known as a giggler (laughs.) Ok?

Uhm, what did you do when you immediately left school?

Uhm, I actually worked, er, in, uhm, County Hall, which was the LCC. I was a
wages clerk and I was quite happy with that. But then the guy who was
running the wages section said to me ‘Stephen, I think you could do much
better than what you’re doing, uhm, have you thought about, working, uhm,
becoming a professional?’ and, uh, that sparked me off thinking and the next
day I visited the firms that were linked to The Royal Institution of Chartered


Surveyors. And, uhm, that… unlike today I got 5 letters to consider working for
these people.
Uhm, and uh, I took the job with a firm called ‘Leslie Dwight and Partners’ and
again I can make, uhm, my recollection of it is under…the, uhm, the office
was in Regent Street and my primary early duty was to get the umbrella out
and, uhm, go with the partner in charge and, uh, follow him (laughs). And so,
my early days, Uhm, but also I became a ‘Worker-up’ and then a ‘Taker-off’.
These seem like innuendos but (laughs) uhm, they were all part of learning to
be a Quantity Surveyor. Uhm, would you like me to continue with the definition
of my career as far as I can remember?

Please, yes.

Uhm, when I…when I realised they reduced my wages when I took a day off,
a day release, and I was a bit miffed by that. So I looked around for a new job
and as time went by, uhm, I became a partner in a small Quantity Surveyor
firm and, uhm, yeah (laughs) another funny story. I became a partner and, uh,
it was just 2 of us. Uhm, and I gradually got to think I’m this guy’s retirement
basis because he’s gonna set my wages quite low level on the…on the on
the…what’s the next word? On the primary reason, uhm, for his picking me.
And, uh, I, he was a nice guy and he worked in Bromley. Uhm, and I…the
penny dropped for me that - when he said to me, ‘Stephen, we appear to be
using a lot of loo paper” and this was like a light to me and so, uh, I left that
job. Uhm, so, then I had a mixed career as a Surveyor and eventually I joined
the PSA, the Property Services Agency and, uh, stayed with them for quite a


time. Uhm, I was posted initially to Croydon and then, uh, at some time we did
our first of 2, uhm, postings to Cyprus, which was very interesting and, uhm,
beautiful island. But there was a hitch because it was the, uhm, the…uh - war
broke out, uhm, and uh, we hung on as long as we could but, uh, we had to
get on a plane and, uh, go home. Uhm, and I…uhm - 6 weeks later, the 3 of
us who had cars went back via the, uhm, canal that runs back because there
were no planes flying at that time. And my second journey out was about 10
years later and, uhm, I lived on a garrison, uhm, and that was very nice and,
uh…what I realised is, as a civilian, all the, the forces were there and they
couldn’t work out when my -where I was in the pecking order. Uhm, and my
wife got asked the same question and she noticed that some people drifted
away and other people lingered on and it was all to do with rank and, yeah.
Ok. Uhm, I talked about my faith - I wanted to talk about it.

Mmm, please.

Uhm, as a, uh, as a Junior Boy in the Boys’ Brigade, uhm, I went to a Baptist
Church, and I’m still a Baptist at heart but we’ve spent a lot of time in other
churches as well. Uhm, and I decided on - I made a commitment to - Jesus.
And, uhm, that was at, uhm, the common, uh, yeah, the common on the Isle
of White where we were camping and, uhm, what followed from that was I
kept talking, uh, saying to my parents ‘I’ve got something to tell you’ and then
they’d say ‘What?’ and I could never bring myself to say what it was, but
eventually I told them. I said I’d become a Christian and they just were
pleased because at that time they weren’t really Christians, uhm, but then,


eventually they…uh, joined the church, uhm, which leads me into my wife.
Uhm, my wife became a Christian, uh, a little, while later and she was in a
Baptismal class which included my mum and dad.

Yeah, so how did you come to meet your wife?

Uhm, she was at a party. Oh, we had a lot of parties in those days and I
suddenly realised that my brother Geoff was talking to, uhm, my wife is short
and I’m tall. And, uh, my brother is equally tall and I was concerned because,
uhm, she should have been talking to me! (laughs) And uhm, I muscled in on
the act and, uh, after a time proposed and got engaged and got married to her
and I’m still married to her.

When did you get married?

Uhm…a long time ago (laughs).

Was it…were you quick to propose after you met her? Or did it - were you
together for…a time before that?

Yeah, yeah I - actually we were…together in advance of our marriage, uhm,
by about 5 years. So it was like a long engagement because we wanted to get
my professional qualification out of the way and then I could concentrate on


Yeah! (laughs) Do you think, uhm, well like, ‘cos you said she became, well,
Christian later. So did you have a really sort of, uh, Christian wedding then?
Or she was Christian by the time you got married, yeah?

Yes. Yeah, and uhm, I have a recollection that, uhm, she also was at that
stage, uh, a dentist receptionist.

Oh ok.

Uhm, and so, when we got married. Uhm, it was Balham where we went to
church and my family then was quite a large family and when we came out
from the service all along the, uhm, - the row on the top of the, uh…on the top
of the constraint for people visiting the public library, which was on the other
side of the road. And they were a huge queue of people wanting to get a
glimpse of Marilyn! And, uh, I thought, I’ve married someone special, yeah.

Uhm, if we could…you had children?


Could you tell us a little bit about those please?

Yeah, uhm, (laughs). James and Peter. James was 5 years older than Peter
and, uhm, Peter’s become a filmmaker and James has become, uhm, a


similar art thing. Uhm, and, uh…Peter, uhm, is taken up with a wide range of
filmmaking. Uhm, and James, uh, is equally occupied with his career and he’s
a package designer. So they’ve both got an architect…a, uh, an artistic bent,
uhm and, uh, I don’t know where that comes from (laughs). And James has
got 3, uh, they’re 3 children for him and they’re grandchildren for me and my
wife, yeah.

Lovely. Do you see a lot of them?

Uhm, yes. The one son has had 3 children and the other one has married a
Russian girl, uhm, but no children yet.

Can you tell us a little bit about the actual…about the stroke itself, kind
of…where it happened what happened and stuff like that if you don’t

No, I don’t mind.

Thank you.

Uhm, yeah. It happened in, uh, our bedroom and, uhm…my wife was on the
verge of going out because she thought I was having a deep sleep, but little
did she understand that it was a stroke, uhm, and fortunately she, uhm,
realised it was a stroke and then she sounded alarms. Uhm, and, uh, with this
seizure, uhm, I then got into Addenbrooke’s and I spent 16 weeks in


Addenbrooke’s and, uh, the last 2 weeks of which I was very pleased the way
they treated me, uh, because I got a chance to ride a motorised vehicle and
so I rode - went round all the clinics and things and waved around, so (laughs)
uhm, yeah. But the next day I surfaced from that stroke. I had epilepsy and
that was a new experience for me, uhm, and that’s been a relatively, uh,
continuing challenge to me because, uhm, other than currently, I was stroking,
uhm, about every 4 weeks or so, uhm, but now I’m on medication which
fortunately seems to be holding that at bay.

Was, um, the epilepsy and the stroke linked at all?

Uhm, I think they were, yeah. Uhm, and that’s a fairly common event from
people who have a stroke to have it followed on by the epilepsy, or if they
were epileptic in the past they become much more…presenting as epilepsy,

How…obviously having a stroke, having epilepsy has changed your life.
Could you tell us just how that’s affected you?

Yeah, Uhm…I think, well for a time I…I didn’t understand what it was that I
had. Uhm, and I…I had, uhm, a time in hospital, which I’ve mentioned
already. Uhm, so when I came out from hospital, uhm, and I was preoccupied
with getting better and, uhm, and part of my recovery is, uhm, like coming to
this place. Uhm, which I’m grateful for and, uhm, yeah. So, uhm, my hospital
no - my GP is very knowledgeable about strokes and, uhm, he’s followed my


experience quite closely in the post-hospital period. Uhm, and so I think
actually it is actually changing my view of…life. And, uhm, yeah. Obviously,
there is a degree of disappointment that I couldn’t go on. Uhm, we had a…uh,
a - a holiday home on the Norfolk coast and that’s gone for a burton. Uhm, but
that’s on the agenda for being…activated, probably next spring, but it’s all
dependent on a whole range of things. Uhm, so…it’s made a difference to me.
For instance, uhm, last week, or last fortnight here, uhm, I came to a singing
event and I…I enjoyed that immensely and in the past I wasn’t a singer, but in
this environment you don’t have to be a singer to join in the singing and it’s all
various, uhm, oldies, about my time of life. Uhm, and, uh, and also, innately,
uhm, I have a desire to work with people or enjoy other people. And, uhm, so
what I would like to do as time goes by and, uhm, might be to help with people
here or, uhm, other places providing care. So that is a new opportunity for me,
uhm, and I recently wrote - read a book, uhm as part of a daily, uh, witness
and, uhm, yeah. The woman who wrote the book has - had- she was, uhm,
uh… She had a career as a cyclist and then she had a terrible crash which
has disabled her for quite a chunk of time, i.e. 40 years. Uhm, but reading her
life story, uhm, it gave me a new encouragement to model my - remodel my
life, uhm, and that’s what I’m working on.

Has your faith helped you?

Yeah, Yeah. And, uhm, yeah, I think, well, we actually go to The United
Reform Church in Fulbourn. Uhm, and that’s been good for me and my wife.
And, uhm, we got – we changed churches actually. And, uhm, where we’ve


gone to now, we’ve had lots of encouragement uhm, and uhm, also at a
deeper level, uhm, I don’t think of God in a judgemental sense. I think - I still
think he is a loving God, but he has designed this phase of my life, uhm, and
it’s opened up new, uh, opportunities for our neighbours and all the rest of it.
And so we’ve got a - I daren’t say better life - a different life and it’s enhanced
by being here.

Uhm, do you consider yourself now, post-stroke, to have a disability?

Yes, I do.

This is a question I ask everybody…Uhm, how was that process to come
to realise yourself that you are a person with a disability?


It’s quite a tough one I know but…

Yeah…I think, uhm, when I was in Addenbrooke’s, uh, and they put me on
the- a rehabilitation course in the hospital. Uhm, but the penny didn’t drop in
that, uhm, I was gonna have a long post experience and, uhm, like I said they
– I had - the 2 weeks in Addenbrooke’s was quite fun at the end of the
experience and, uhm, I thought that was the key. Uhm, but having come out
of hospital, uh, and being confronted by all the… exercises that you need to
do and also the busy-ness of our lives and the catching up with my wife who’s


run everything. And I begin to - it begins to dawn on me, uhm, I am disabled
but, uhm, I’m working on it.

What do you think the future holds for you?

Well as I hinted at earlier, uhm, yes. I’m, uh, I’m facing new challenges and,
uhm, some of them are quite difficult to face up to, uhm, but others present
new opportunities. Uhm, and they – I – the question you asked me was that
what did I think of, uh, as a by-product of having a stroke. Uhm, I’ve got, uh, a
lot of unused bits, like my arm. Uhm, but I’m going to Addenbrooke’s this
afternoon to have a look at things and perhaps even have a Botox injection.
Uhm, but, uh, so I’m trying desperately to hook into all the possible ways and
means of getting a bit of – bit more – uh, a bit less disabled, but I still suspect
that, uhm, there could be a residue from this stroke, uhm, but… I think, uhm,
I’m working at it.

Brilliant. That’s brilliant. Is there anything we haven’t spoken about that
you would like to talk about today?

I’ve talked about my sons and my wife…and grandchildren. Uhm, I don’t think
so really. I think I’ve touched on, uhm, the bulk of my life so, uhm, I’d like to
blow the whistle at this point.

(laughs) Awesome.


Thank you.


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