Teresa Howarth, our clinical lead in stammering, is in no doubt who she wants to win this year’s Strictly – it’s outsider-turned- comedy- favourite Ed Balls!
Teresa and her patient Zain Ghani met the former Shadow Chancellor at a Stammering Network meeting at the Speaker’s House, Westminster and says: “ He was lovely, very warm and compassionate and, of course, I’m rooting for him.”
Ed is vice president of the Action for Stammering Children charity and spoke about his own stammer – a covert one – and how it led him to seek for treatment later in life.
Teresa was reunited with her patient Zain at the event. She cared for him from when he was 17 and during his years at Uni. When they first met Zain was struggling with confidence even asking for a bus ticket was an issue. Zain, from Halifax, is now the most senior member of the ASC Youth Panel. He was on a week’s work placement with ASC which included preparing for the event at Speaker’s House. He is also applying to be a volunteer with CHFT’s therapy team and now wants to become a therapist himself.
Teresa, said: “It was an absolute delight to be greeted by Zain as I walked up the stairs to Speakers House.”
So did Strictly talk take over?
Teresa adds: “I introduced Ed to Zain and told him Zain was a dancer too and the two of them then started talking about dancing. But we didn’t get a picture of them dancing. The meeting was back in October and he probably had no idea he was going to still be in so close to the finals.”
The Stammering Network event was held at Speaker's House with permission of the Speaker of the House, The Right Honorable John Bercow MP. Called 'Stammering Therapy Changes Lives' it was attended by more than 100 people.
Ed has been a supporter of the ASC charity for many years and regularly meets children and young people to talk about the challenges of living with a stammer. He is an active fundraiser for the charity, running marathons and speaking at fundraising events. His book Speaking Out addresses his personal journey and the challenges he faces in public life of having a stammer.
On his appointment as VP, he said: “I was thrilled to be asked to become a vice-president of ASC, a brilliant charity which I have been involved with for many years. It’s important that children and young people who stammer see people in public life who have managed to overcome their stammer, so that they know it doesn’t have to hold you back or stop you doing the things you want to do."
The event at Speaker’s House was an opportunity to raise awareness of stammering and the importance of speech and language therapy in transforming the lives of people who stammer in the UK.
Teresa said: “ We heard from each speaker how it has helped their confidence – from high ranking politicians, to adults, children and young people. Ed talked about his own experiences and told us how he had been hiding his stammer but sought therapy as it still affected him.”
The stammering network is made up of Action for Stammering Children, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the British Stammering Association, Employers Stammering Network, City Lit, the Michael Palin Centre, and the National Clinical Excellence Network in Disorders of Fluency.
An ASC spokesman, said: “This is a great moment for the members of the stammering and speech and language community. We are united and are speaking with one voice to help raise awareness about the issues of stammering. A key message for helping someone who stammers is “Wait, Listen, Be Patient, Give Time. Don’t interrupt or finish off their sentences."
And in case you haven't seen Ed in action we've attached a few highlight pix!