Tireless charity fund raiser and community stalwart Harold Lawrence has written a book telling the story of how his life was turned upside down after suffering a stroke.
Bexhill resident Harold has always been eager to accept a challenge, whether it be walking 640 miles along the South West Coastal Path with Fargo, a puppet frog attached to his rucksack, climbing the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in a 24 period, or picking up a pebble from the shore of the Irish Sea then walking across England to throw it in the North Sea.
At the Bexhill Community Awards in 2008, he was presented with Lifetime Achievement Award and described as giving his time to ‘bring joy and happiness to others.’
Among Harold’s many achievements was his forming of the 1066 Specials - a scheme to give children and adults with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to play and receive football coaching, because he realised that football brings people together.
He was also a hard working member of the Rotary Club, playing a key role in organising a Young Writer’s Competition for local schools.
Yet despite his active lifestyle, mainly in the service of helping others, Harold, who is in his 70’s, received a jolt in 2017. After being diagnosed with bowel cancer, early in the year and undergoing a successful operation, he was then left in agony with a kidney stone before suffering a stroke in December of that year in an episode in which he first thought he was having an attack of vertigo.
A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.
Whilst recovering from his ordeal Harold found himself making notes of his thoughts and experiences and the result is the recently published book At a Stroke - a stroke survivor’s journey’.
The book is written with a light humorous touch which belies the serious and heavy nature of its subject.
Harold captures a sense of how we deal with the unexpected in life and of how we cope and adapt.
Throughout the book he displays a real understanding of and empathy with those who are helping him on the road to recovery.
It is also a great study of humour in adversity as Harold recounts the laughs he shares with fellow patients and makes the best of spending Christmas Day in hospital.
John’s long term friend, and former Observer Deputy Editor John Dowling noted: “It is remarkable his sense of humour did not desert him in his hour of need and the irony of his circumstances twinkles amid the trauma. With a clarity which is remarkable, given the circumstances, the book is also an acute and objective observation of the NHS at work, one that, despite his own urgent needs at the time, reveals Harold’s compassion for his fellow human beings.”
Typical of the man, Harold now devotes much time to speaking to groups, schools and organisations about stroke awareness and the need to respond fast.
He is also donating a good percentage of all his book sales to the Stroke Association.
People will be able to hear Harold recount his story at a special launch of the book at the Bookkeeper Bookshop, Kings Road, St Leonards, on Sunday September 8, at 6.30pm - 7pm. Places are limited. email Harold at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To purchase a copy of the book go to www.atastroke.co.uk. For more information on what action to take if someone is suffering a stroke, symptoms to look for and action to take, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/.
For more on the Stroke Association and its work visit www.stroke.org.uk/