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'I will not let it stop me' - Woman who suffered stroke to co-run new cafe

PUBLISHED: 14:32 22 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 22 August 2019

Sam Varney, 53, who suffered a stroke in 2011, will run a social cafe in Gorleston managed by Headway, a charity supporting people with brain injury. Picture: Headway.

Sam Varney, 53, who suffered a stroke in 2011, will run a social cafe in Gorleston managed by Headway, a charity supporting people with brain injury. Picture: Headway.

Archant

Strokes can leave people critically ill, unable to speak and struggling to move.

Headway, a charity supporting people with brain injury, will open a social cafe in Gorleston on September 2, 2019. Picture: Headway.Headway, a charity supporting people with brain injury, will open a social cafe in Gorleston on September 2, 2019. Picture: Headway.

For Sam Varney, 53, from Gorleston, that was how it was as she lay in a bed in the James Paget Hospital, having suffered a stroke while asleep the night before.

That was 2011, and her normally active life - Ms Varney was a regular swimmer - already seemed a distant memory.

But eight years later, after a long journey fuelled by unwavering determination, Ms Varney is preparing to help run a new cafe.

It will be managed and run by staff and clients at the Gorleston branch of Headway, an organisation which provides support to people who have suffered brain injury.

Ms Varney first visited Headway as a day visitor and has been attending the centre regularly ever since.

Prior to her brain injury she had led an active lifestyle, regularly enjoying swimming, and following the stroke, she was determined she would return to her passion and get back in the pool, splashing around with her son again.

The stroke had left Ms Varney with speech difficulties and severe weakness down her right side, and she was forced to start all over again, slowly retraining her body and mind so she could walk, speak and write

With the support of the Headway team, Ms Varney began to regain her confidence and re-learnt skills to get her independence back.

Determined to start enjoying life again, she also joined a local swimming club, which, alongside physiotherapy, helped her with her strength, mobility and confidence.

She has gone on to win medals for swimming, which she takes great pride in.

Movement in her arm and leg is returning, and her determination never waivers.

She said: "The stroke has damaged me, but I carry on and I will not let it stop me."

Ms Varney will be one of the people running The Social Space Café at Headway Gorleston, on Traflagar Road East, serving cakes, sandwiches and drinks as part of a structured rehabilitation process.

"Serving others in the community will help my confidence and allow me to gain vital skills," she said.

The cafe will be open every Monday from 10am to 3.30pm from September 2.

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