Helping to take away the worry of a stammer

TO some people it's a subject of fun, an embarrassing but comical affliction.

But to more than half a million people in the UK, it can be a daily source of frustration, anguish and dejection, and a barrier to leading a normal everyday life.

Stammering is a serious condition causing 'speech anxiety', which can result in sufferers avoiding social contact and experiencing depression and feelings of inferiority.

From employment opportunities to educational achievement and relationships, stammering can have a massive impact on people's lives, and treatment – usually a long and and exhausting process involving a speech therapist – tends to prove successful for only a small minority.

John Thompson, 57, of Oulton Broad, has suffered from a stammer since he was five and says his condition made him 'shy and introverted' as a child and badly affected his confidence.

'You do learn to cope but for some people with a serious stammer it can have a major effect on their life. which they find hard to deal with,' he said. 'It's the everyday things that are more difficult such as going to the shops or to a pub or restaurant – things that most people take for granted.'

For the past four years, Mr Thompson has run a support group for people who stammer in the east Suffolk and Norfolk area, with members ranging in age from 16 to 63.

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As part of its work he has organised an open day at the Maid's Head Hotel in Norwich tomorrow jointly funded by the British Stammering Association (BSA) and the Dominic Barker Trust (DBT), both of which are sending representatives to speak at the event.

The DBT, is based at Holbrook, near Ipswich, and is the charity set up by the parents of Dominic Barker who committed suicide at the age of 26 because of his stammer.

'Despite many people thinking stammering is not a big deal and is amusing, it can be a very lonely and distressing problem for those who suffer from it,' said Mr Thompson.

'The open day is an opportunity for people to meet others with the same problem and perhaps make friends.'

The day, which starts at 9.30am, will include talks by experts on research into stammering and advice on how and where to seek help with language therapy for children and adults.

The support group meets once a month, usually on the third Monday, at The Rushcutters Inn, Yarmouth Road, Thorpe, near Norwich. Everyone is welcome but under 18s should be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, contact John Thompson at 136 Dell Road, Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, NR33 9NT, tel: 01502 581481 or 07854 650246; e-mail:

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