Bertha Hewitt explains how volunteering with the Stroke Association has enhanced the quality of her life.
My name is Bertha Hewitt and I am 76 years old and worked in the industrial catering industry most of my life. I have two children and four grandchildren. My interests include travelling and caravanning along with my late husband Bob, who was involved in motorcycle road racing sport and travelled the world as the Irish representative on the international body.
My husband suffered a stroke in 1993 and lost all his speech which was devastating to both him and the family. I personally found it challenging as there seemed little support but then we heard of ADA which is now the Stroke Association. Bob received speech therapy and coping mechanisms, not only this but they also supported me and helped me to cope in this difficult situation. It was reassuring to know I was not alone and it was beneficial to talk to others in similar situations.
I became a volunteer in 1994. I help with store collections and have a police clearance for counting money. I help in the office when mail shots need to be completed and anything else that I can help with. Recently I have been doing blood pressure checks in offices across Northern Ireland to help raise awareness of the link between high blood pressure and stroke.
I enjoy it as I feel I am giving back my time in return for the services and help Bob received. I find the staff very appreciative for anything I do.
I would encourage others to get involved in volunteering as it is very rewarding for yourself and the others that we are helping.