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“Like Emmerdale’s Marlon, my stroke didn’t stop me getting married”

Lifestyle

“Like Emmerdale’s Marlon, my stroke didn’t stop me getting married”

Sarah Gardner feared not being able to say her vows on her big day…

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive Stroke Association:

“We are pleased that Emmerdale and Mark Charnock are continuing to take on this challenging storyline and follow Marlon as he recovers from his stroke. As a charity, we are delighted to have been able to offer our advice and support from the beginning of the process.

“A stroke consultant, stroke survivors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and teams across the charity have helped the Emmerdale production team with all aspects of the story including the latest wedding storyline and the realistic depiction of Marlon taking his first steps down the aisle. It is important that viewers can see the physical recovery milestones but also the emotional turmoil that many stroke survivors and their carers and family members go through.”

Last week in Emmerdale, Marlon Dingle took a huge step in his stroke recovery as he made his first steps when walking down the aisle to marry Rhona Ghoskirk, in a rare moment of happiness for the couple. Marlon had a stroke in March this year, only minutes after he got engaged to Rhona. As Marlon’s family celebrated the couple’s engagement, he collapsed and his life changed in an instant.

Five months on, following extensive rehabilitation and tears from characters and viewers alike, the storyline will culminate in this significant moment for Marlon as he takes his first steps down the aisle to surprise his wife-to-be.

Every stroke survivor’s story and recovery is different. No two strokes or recovery are the same and each stroke survivor has their own story to tell as they rebuild their life after a stroke. For Sarah Gardner, 45, from Leicestershire, who had her stroke only a few months before her planned wedding day, it was the fear of not being able to say her vows that was her greatest fear.

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive Stroke Association:

“Many viewers are able to identify with Marlon’s storyline – like Sarah. We hope that Marlon’s stroke storyline will continue to raise awareness amongst viewers, as he continues to rebuild his life. Stroke changes lives in an instant, but the brain can adapt and stroke survivors can make remarkable recoveries. There is hope and life after stroke, like we are seeing in this story.

“If you think you or someone you know is having a stroke you should Act FAST and call 999 as a stroke is a medical emergency.”

Sarah, who was 34 at the time of her stroke, was at work when she dropped a cup of tea and knew something was wrong. After returning home and going to bed, Sarah was in and out of consciousness and remembers very little, as paramedics began treating and transferring her between Leicester Royal Infirmary and the QMC in Nottingham. Sarah’s stroke was caused by a deep bleed on her brain while doctors also identified it had been caused by an abnormal connection of blood vessels – known as AVM.

Emmerdale, episode 9316, Monday 21st March 2022.
As an elated Marlon Dingle searches for the engagement ring, his vision becomes impaired. Chaos ensues as he falls to the ground and realises he’s suffering from a stroke. Frightened and disorientated, Marlon desperately clings onto consciousness as he scrambles to remember the F.A.S.T. acronym.

Sarah was left unable to speak for weeks, had limited use of her left side and began an intensive course of occupational, speech and language and physiotherapy.

Sarah said: “Myself and Darren got engaged in March 2011 and were due to get married the following April but then I had my stroke in October. I couldn’t talk for the first few weeks and then I learnt, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The doctors also said there was a chance I would have another bleed.”

While in recovery, Sarah’s wedding organiser sent countless emails and calls which Sarah obviously couldn’t reply to. While the planned wedding for April was called off, Darren suggested that Sarah plan the wedding herself to keep her occupied during her recovery. It was then that Sarah knew she wanted a very different wedding as she was very conscious of her speech.

“Darren suggested that I plan the wedding as it was something for me to focus on and keep me occupied. I knew straight away I didn’t want a big wedding. I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me or thinking that I spoke weird. My biggest fear was being able to get my vows out and was worried about stringing a sentence together and repeating back what the person conducting the ceremony said.”

Sarah decided to switch the venue to Florida and by chance, Doris, who would conduct the ceremony, knew all about stroke and aphasia following her own husband’s stroke and recovery.

“It was pure chance that we met Doris, she knew all about stroke and speech problems and she made me feel so much better. We got married in a beautiful house overlooking the lake and only six people attended. Doris really understood my fears and she kept telling me throughout my vows that I was doing great – we can’t thank her enough!

“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.”


If you need further information or support please visit the Stroke Association website at www.stroke.org.uk

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