Pub themed Stroke support group pulls in the punters

Have you heard the one about the busy Wigan pub with no booze? Sound like the start of a joke right?

Well, that’s exactly what’s happening at the Think Ahead Tavern, a growing, weekly pub themed meeting group for working age stroke survivors.

Now over six months old, and expanding by the week, the Think Ahead Tavern is for those stroke survivors who enjoy all the fun, games and banter of their local pub – but can no longer have a beer.

The Tavern was the brainchild of Hindley Green’s Simon Blakemore and Jimmy Nutt, both University of Salford Occupational Therapy post graduate students.

Simon explains: “I’ve always been aware of Think Ahead Stroke and the vital work it does with stroke survivors due to my studies and time working at Preston Royal Hospital.

“But I couldn’t help but think that a lot of the activities and groups it organised were aimed more at women – things like card making classes, art groups and Knit and Natter.

“I felt there was a gap for something a bit more for the lads, and in particular, working age stroke survivors who’d still like to get out for a laugh with their mates, but have maybe lost the confidence to leave the house, which is very common after a stroke.

“So I decided to pitch the idea of the Tavern to Think Ahead Stroke, they loved it, and the rest has been history!”

Simon has recently passed the reigns onto regular ‘Taverner’ and chief ‘rabble rouser’ Barry Smith, from Whelley who’s 64 in August.

Barry survived his stroke in 2012, leaving him with partial sight in one eye, and is a graduate from Think Ahead’s Stepping Stones for Stroke recovery programme.    

Barry explains: “I’m lucky that I’m now well enough to run the Tavern most weeks, and so far it’s been really satisfying to see how people have improved one week to the next – particularly their confidence.

“It is confidence that’s key really, and some of the lads are at a very low ebb when they first arrive. What’s remarkable is how they help each other to overcome barriers in different ways.

“For example, one member currently has very limited speech, but between them the lads have found a way that he can still get involved in our weekly pub quiz. That means a lot to him, you can just tell.”

Barry continues: “It’s amazing how much you can tell about an individual’s condition from just observing them relaxing, playing games and socialising – it reveals a lot about their physical and mental state.

“The group is growing so quickly that we’re in the process of moving to a permanent room in the building. If you’re interested, you don’t need to book, just come down on the day as you would your local pub, it’s that simple.”

The group is free, and meet up every Tuesday here at Think Ahead, at Ashland House, Ince from 1pm to 3pm.

For more information visit email [email protected] or call 01942 924 888, or just come down 1pm on a Tuesday.