Hartlepool vicar gets expert help for stammer

Andrew Craig who has paid tribute to Kirsten Liddle for her help with his stammer
Andrew Craig who has paid tribute to Kirsten Liddle for her help with his stammer

A clergyman who has a stammer has paid tribute to the therapists who helped transform his speech.

Andrew Craig, a reverend at Stranton and Burbank Church, has been treated by the speech and language therapy team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

He described them as “wonderful people” and said his stammer is no longer noticeable after four years of support.

Andrew worked with Kirsten Liddle, a speech and language therapist clinical lead in fluency at the trust.

He said: “When I got into my 40s a friend suggested to me that speech therapy had come on a long way and I should try it. I was referred by my GP and saw a lovely speech therapist called Kirsten.

“She did video sessions with me, helped me to analyse my stammer, taught me how to deal with my blocking - over a period of three to four years it transformed the stammer and even though it is still there now, it is not noticeable.”

Andrew added: “Strangely, my stammer has never been an issue when I am doing my work, reading a sermon.

“It can be more difficult for me when I get in a situation where I have anxiety and stress or when I’m trying to say something more spontaneous.

“What is helpful is when people are relaxed, patient, and as normal as possible with you.

Kirsten said: “We all talk better when we are relaxed - the more relaxed you are the easier it is to get your thoughts across but the reason the stammer is there is not because the person is inherently nervous or shy.

“Good therapy is about a partnership - the therapist and the client or family bringing their knowledge together and coming up with something which works for that individual.

“Successful therapy is about achieving whatever outcome that person wants to achieve.

“There is a real risk that if you push your agenda too hard – like achieving complete fluency - this can have a negative impact on the person’s self-esteem and well-being which is not what we want.

“Speech therapy is here to support people of any age (adults and children) to reduce the impact of the stammering and enable them to live the life they want to live.”