Ken Macaulay credits the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland charity with helping him get his life back and in return has assisted in giving the organisation a funding tonic.

Acting on Ken’s suggestion, £2647.50 raised at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) in November is being donated to CHSS, which improves the quality of life for people recovering from life threatening illness across Scotland.

Ken, who has been a board member of HITA since their inception in 2003, was indebted to the support received from CHSS when he suffered a stroke two and a half years ago.

He said: “It was an obvious choice for me. CHSS is a very important and worthwhile charity which supports so many people. When someone has a stroke the follow-up care is as important, or even more important, than the initial treatment.

“Having had a stroke myself, I know first-hand the fantastic work the charity’s staff do to help survivors and their families. They help with all aspects of the recovery process. In my case, they gave me the confidence to get my life back.”

Ken, the former owner of Tulloch Castle in Dingwall, suffered his stroke on the evening of 23 August 2014, hours after attending an Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic match.

“I was reading the paper in bed when all of a sudden I couldn’t see the print. I put the light out and went to sleep but my wife woke me up at 5a.m. as I was tossing and turning. I got up but couldn’t see properly and couldn’t remember anything. The only thing I did know for sure was that Caley Thistle had beaten Celtic 1-0!”

The stroke left him unable to see out of his left side, which affected his coordination. It also affected his speech and memory. In addition, he was unable to drive for 18 months and had to go through a series of tests before having his licence returned.

At the same time, he lost his confidence and could not attend football matches or the theatre as he was uncomfortable in crowds and with noise.

However, he continued his work with HITA and, with CHSS support, gradually returned to other activities.

“I’ve spoken with a number of people who have had a stroke and losing confidence is a big thing. It’s also important for families and friends to understand how the person who has had the stroke is feeling.

“I received great care in the hospital, but afterwards the support of CHSS in helping me take the steps to get back my life was crucial.”

The work of CHSS includes medical research, influencing public policy, advice and information, and support in the community. The charity offers a range of community services throughout Scotland, including support for families and other carers.

Its activities in the Highlands and Islands include a regional office in Inverness, communication support services, advice lines, specialist stroke nurses, a stroke training programme for health professionals and cardiac and respiratory support service.

Paul Corrigan, the charity’s North fundraising manager, said: “Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland are extremely honoured to be the 2016 HITA charity beneficiary and are sincerely grateful to HITA for this valued support.

“We are very grateful to Ken for nominating us and we are delighted that he is making a full recovery from his stroke with the assistance of CHSS staff.

“We firmly believe that whilst surviving a life-threatening illness or health condition is good, getting your life back is better and supporting and assisting people like Ken to regain their independence and quality of life is essential. What matters to people like Ken matters to us.

“This amazing donation will go directly to help people with debilitating illness in the Highlands and Islands get their quality of life back too.”

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