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Mark finds voice for wedding speech

PUBLISHED: 10:13 08 June 2011

(click on image for larger view) Mike Richards who has found a cure to his speech stammer with Mark Wilson, Weston Hospital.

(click on image for larger view) Mike Richards who has found a cure to his speech stammer with Mark Wilson, Weston Hospital.

Archant

A STAMMERING father scared his speech problem would ruin his moment at his daughter’s wedding has found a cure - in the shape of a mobile phone.

Concerned Mark Wilson approached doctors at Weston General Hospital when he found his stammer was affecting his plans to deliver an emotional speech at his daughter’s special day this August.

But the 54-year-old’s hopes seemed dashed when he was told by speech therapist Mike Richards that only an electronic device would help - at a cost of £2,000.

However, when researching the problem, Mr Richards found an iPhone application claiming to give the same benefit and decided to try it on Mark.

Mark said: “It was like flicking a switch. As soon as I put the earpiece in my ear and started using the app, I sounded perfectly normal again. It is a minor miracle and has given me my old self back again.”

Mark, who lives in Churchill, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 15 months ago.

He was forced to sell his transport café business in Bristol and take early retirement.

He said: “I have always been a quick-witted person – always ready to come in with a funny response or a joke, but my stammer was making me keep quiet because I couldn’t get my words out in time. Now I have my confidence back and speaking at my daughter’s wedding holds no fears for me now – I’ll be fine.”

Speech and language therapist Mike Richards said the phone application would only work on about a third of patients who suffer the same problem.

He said: “It was fantastic to be able to track down something so innovative and inexpensive that has changed my patient’s life so drastically.

“It has made me very proud to be a speech and language therapist at the hospital and of the difference we can make.”

Weston Area Health Trust, which runs Weston General Hospital, is taking part in a Giving Voice Campaign.

It is aimed at raising awareness of the role of speech and language therapy.

Mr Richards added: “Speech and language therapists make a significant contribution in tackling many challenges and adding quality to life.”

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