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Washington survivor’s stroke recovery receives regional recognition

Press release   •   Jun 26, 2014 09:00 BST

Inspirational young stroke survivor John Lee Lydon, 32, from Washington, has been awarded a Highly Commended Life After Stroke certificate from the Stroke Association.

Fitness fanatic and personal trainer John Lee has worked in the fitness industry for 18 years, and was shocked when he had a stroke in July 2012.

He said: “I was at work, and had had a headache the night before. I couldn’t see out of my left eye, my face dropped on the left side, and my left arm and leg went numb and I collapsed. In hospital, the scans showed I had had a stroke, probably caused by a hole in my heart.”

A hole in the heart is also known as patent foramen ovale (PFO). The hole between the right and left side of the heart should close after birth, but in as many as one in four people, it remains open. It usually doesn’t cause any problems, but a blood clot could travel from the right to left side of the heart, potentially causing a stroke.

John continues: “It’s been tough with lots of ups and downs; I’m still recovering but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I have a lot of family support; you’ve got to look forward. I want to raise awareness that young people can have strokes, and the support which is available. The Stroke Association was just a phone call away, and helped me set up a blog so I can write my stroke journey to inspire others.”

John has been left with fatigue, short term memory loss, poor concentration and a stammer when tired. He started his recovery with short walks around the house and a year later opened his own fitness unit and donated the first week’s takings to the Stroke Association. John is now also taking part in the Great North Run for the Stroke Association along with his wife Lesley and friends at New You Training.

John’s wife Lesley, who was among those who nominated John for the Adult Courage award, said “Throughout the last 19 months John has shown me what strength really is. It’s not about how many weights you can lift, it’s about the journey you choose to take in the darkest of times. He has shown courage, grit and determination. He understands that life will never be the same again but he has fought back to where he is now from what seemed like the beginning of the end. He is an inspiration to all.”

John received his Highly Commended certificate from Dr Satinder Sanghera, GP partner at Weardale Practice. Dr Sanghera had a stroke at the age of 20, which affected her right side and caused expressive dysphasia. The presentation took place at the Marriott Hotel in Gateshead on Wednesday 25 June.

Peter Moore, Regional Head of Operations for the Stroke Association in the North East, continued: “A stroke happens in an instant and often changes lives forever. We were thrilled that so many of our community in the North East were nominated to receive a Life After Stroke Award. Our regional event highlights the tremendous courage people have shown in rebuilding their lives after a stroke, or in helping others to do the same.”

The Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Awards recognise the courage shown by stroke survivors and carers as well as the great work and commitment shown by health professionals, groups and supporter organisations. For more information visit

For more information about stroke, ring the Helpline on 0303 30 33 100 or visit
To sponsor John-Lee Lydon in the Great North Run visit


Interview and photo opportunities are available, please contact Vicki Wray on 0161 742 7478 or email

A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.  
Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and we’re leading a community of people to change the world for people affected by stroke.  We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at