Stroke victim's Olympic dream

FOUR years after suffering a life-threatening stroke, Steph Ramsey is an inspiration to others in the same position as she bids to return to her active lifestyle.

Elliot Furniss

FOUR years after suffering a life-threatening stroke, Steph Ramsey is an inspiration to

others in the same position as she bids to return to her active lifestyle.

Mrs Ramsey, 42, lives in Ashbocking and before her stroke in 2006, was a competitive cricketer, talented skier and passionate windsurfer and led a non-stop life with her husband Mark, a police officer.

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Although the stroke changed both of their lives in so many ways, Mrs Ramsey never lost sight of her desire to regain her freedom and live her life to the full once again, and with the support of her husband, she is reaching the targets she has set herself.

She taught herself to write left-handed and hot on the heels of getting her driving licence back last November, she will soon be trying out for the chance to join the British Paralympics sailing team.

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The target is a place on one of the boats going to compete at the 2012 Games, and Mrs Ramsey has been using sailing as a way of building up her confidence ever since the stroke.

She said: “I couldn't do wind-surfing, so I decided to take up sailing and I go to Alton Water every week. I go with the Woolverstone Project, a charity for disabled sailors.

“Up until my stroke, I had lived a pretty full-on life. I was always on the go and enjoyed a range of sports and outdoor pursuits.

“My stroke came out of the blue, with no warning and left me with a right-sided weakness, speech and communication problems as well as epilepsy.”

Mr Ramsey said his wife had almost died after the stroke and spent three days in intensive care before being told by doctors that she would only make a limited recovery.

But four years on, her enjoyment of life is growing all the time and the next step, after the sailing “audition”, will be a skiing holiday later this year while her long-term aim is to return to work.

Mr Ramsey said: “We went skiing to the French Alps last year but Steph skied off the side of a mountain, so this year we are going to go to a disabled ski school.”

During the early stages of her recovery, Mrs Ramsey was referred to the Optua UK community brain injury service which she now feels has been one of the main drivers behind her determination to claw back as much of her former life as she can.

Mr Ramsey said: “We know how lucky we were to be granted this help. At first, no suitable care was offered to us and we had to remain firm about needing support at home.

“Luckily Social Services listened and there's no doubt that without Optua UK's help, Steph would not have improved as she has and I would probably have had to give up work to care for her.”

Mrs Ramsey, who now does volunteer work every week with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Police, said that without Optua's “nudges and pushing”, she wouldn't have progressed as far as she had.

She said: “Their support workers have become part of the family and shared with me and my husband the highs and lows of my rehabilitation.”

For details about the Woolverstone Project visit and for more about Optua UK, visit

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