A mum-of-two who suffered an almost fatal stroke has been given a huge boost in her recovery – thanks to her inspirational younger sister.
Jemma Stott, 34, who was left partially paralysed and unable to speak, spent five months in hospital.
Her speech is limited and she is paralysed on her right side, but Jemma is recovering with the support of loved ones and was overwhelmed by a kind gesture from her 13-year-old sister Katie Robertson.
The Bucksburn Academy pupil and three classmates gave a presentation at school about the life-threatening medical condition, which included an emotional video showing Jemma’s first steps in recovery.
Katie and her pals’ display won a contest and organisers, the Wood Foundation, gave them £3,000 to donate to Inverurie and District Stroke Club, which helps other stroke survivors.
Jemma, of Bucksburn, said: “Katie and her teammates did an amazing job. I was so proud of her.
“It was very emotional, taking me back to when I couldn’t walk or talk and I felt scared of how everything would turn out.
“There were tears all around when Katie’s team were announced as the winners.”
Before her stroke, Jemma worked part-time as an administrator and loved being active with her husband Peter and their children Chloe, 12, and Alfie, eight.
She said: “We used to love going to concerts and going to Disney World in Florida twice a year. I was a busy hard-working young mum with my whole life ahead of me.”
Then Jemma had the flu in January 2018 and became extremely tired.
While in bed, her condition worsened. She said: “I became unresponsive and unable to speak or move my arms or legs.
“I felt intense fear and panic. I knew something serious had happened but didn’t immediately consider I had suffered a stroke as it is not something we associate young people suffering from.
“I was aware of my surroundings but was unable to communicate or move. It was terrifying.”
Jemma was treated at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and later transferred to Fraserburgh Stroke Unit, where she spent five months recovering.
She said: “We will be forever grateful for what the staff at the hospital and the unit did for me and the advice we received.
“The daily physiotherapy and speech therapy received in the stroke unit ensured I was able to regain some movement in my legs and take my first steps again.
“My close family have given me the most amazing support. My husband Peter has been everything to me.
“Chloe and Alfie have suffered greatly due to the effects of my stroke but they are great kids and have always given me the everyday help I need when I ask.
“My mum, Jennifer Robertson, was with me every day in hospital. When I got home from hospital she and Peter continued with the physio.
“I was so fortunate to have such amazing support from my family.”
Jemma now suffers from aphasia – an inability to comprehend language.
She said: “Aphasia has had the biggest impact on my life and has left me feeling lonely and isolated at times and unable to join in with basic activities others take for granted.
“I can no longer do the simple things like walk Alfie to school or walk to the shops, catch a bus or go out on my own due to my limited mobility and speech.
“My intellect was not affected but my speech will never return to how it used to be pre-stroke.
“However, in the right environment with patience and understanding I can join in on a conversation, albeit slowly.
“Everything is a challenge but if I want to improve my life I have to keep trying.”
Katie gave the presentation as part of the Wood Foundation’s Young Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) contest.
Jemma said: “I was really impressed that Katie wanted to focus on stroke awareness.
“I am so pleased the money has gone to the Inverurie Stroke Group as it is a fantastic asset.
“After my stroke I was intensely aware of the lack of support groups focusing on people my own age and in similar situations.”
Katie said: “I’m really glad to have helped the stroke club and to have raised awareness of stroke recovery, along with my classmates on the YPI team.”
And mum Jennifer Robertson said: “I’m so proud of both my girls.
“Katie, along with her classmates Hamish Bruce, Lewis Lindsay and Alistair Smith, researched the charity before presenting.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when videos of Jemma’s first steps, taken weeks Womanafter her stroke, were shown.
“Katie described the harrowing journey Jemma and our family endured and the devastating effects it has left us all to deal with.
“Jemma’s guts and determination to improve on her predicted outcome still leave me hugely emotional.”
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Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, which organises Inverurie Stroke Group, said: “Katie is an inspiration.
“She has turned such an emotional and difficult time for her family into something so positive.
“Her generous donation will help people regain their confidence after a stroke and get back to doing the things they love.”
The club typically receives around £6,000 a year in funding so the prize boosts their annual funds by half.
Bucksburn Academy’s principal teacher of technologies, Marie Simpson, said: “All pupils who participated in the YPI initiative worked exceptionally hard and were a real credit to the school.”
Lady Helen Wood, trustee of The Wood Foundation, who presented Katie and her team with their award, said: “The winning team demonstrated great passion for the cause and delivered a well-researched and informative presentation.”