The Stroke Association’s ‘Carer Award’ was presented to Grace by comedian Rob Brydon, at a ceremony at the Landmark hotel in London on 21 November 2018. On hearing that she had won a Life After Stroke Award, Grace said:
“I was so surprised to be nominated. Everyone is very excited and proud of me. I’m a bit nervous about getting up to accept the award, but I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone else there.”
Heidi had a stroke in 2016. As a single mother of three and housekeeper, life was busy until the day when Grace and her sister returned home to find her with a pounding headache.
“Before, mum had done everything – cook, clean, take care of us,” said Grace. “After mum’s stroke, we had to learn how to do all that ourselves. At the same time we were trying to understand that our mum couldn’t properly communicate like she wanted to, which would make her very frustrated. We also thought she was angry as she kept walking into things, but it was because her sight had been affected too.”
As Heidi struggled with her recovery, Grace, who was home-schooled, took on the major caring for her mum and helped her connect with other stroke survivors online.
“I became a lot more confident,” said Grace. “After dealing with so many things following mum’s stroke, I saw that some things really don’t matter – do what you want, as life is short. She was so sad when she came out of hospital, and now she’s happy and rebuilt her life.”
In caring for her mum, Grace came to understand how to best support someone affected by stroke. “You have to have patience with someone who’s been through something major like that,” she said. “You may think you know how they feel, but you don’t. It’s very hard to put yourself in their shoes because it’s very hard for them (let alone you) to understand what’s going on in their head.”
Heidi is looking forward to seeing Grace receive her award. “It’s so exciting that she’s won,” she said. “The other night, we talked about it all, and I realised how much she did – she was my right arm. When it was just me and her, she had to work so hard and not just domestically – she had to look after me emotionally too. She handled it so well.”
Rob Brydon, who presented Grace with her award said: “It is a real joy to be asked to give Grace this award. She’s an extraordinary young lady, she’s been such a great support to her mum and she has such warmth and vivacity. Stroke is something which can affect the whole family, so it’s great to celebrate how important carers are in supporting stroke survivors.”
Grace is also supporting the Stroke Association’s Christmas appeal, ‘I am more than my stroke’. The appeal raises money so the charity can help more stroke survivors live with the impact of their stroke because it may have changed their lives but it doesn’t need to define who they are as person. Visit stroke.org.uk/iammoreto make a donation.
Watch a short of video of Grace and Heidi at www.stroke.org.uk/lasa