You are in: Home > About us > Real people, real stories

Real people, real stories.

Back to About us

Here we publish amazing stories from our supporters, volunteers and service users. We hope they'll inspire more people to volunteer, and assist with our vital services, or to raise much needed funds for us. If you're facing chest, heart or stroke challenges yourself then these stories will show how CHSS has supported people across Scotland and helped them to live longer, stronger lives.

Back to About us

john mcnaught painting
I’m Elaine Fisher and for the last 11 years I’ve worked as Community Stroke Services Coordinator in South West Glasgow for CHSS. One of the most rewarding things about my job is seeing how my weekly Young Stroke Service lifts the spirits of the men and women who attend. ...
John's story

I’m Elaine Fisher and for the last 11 years I’ve worked as Community Stroke Services Coordinator in South West Glasgow for CHSS. One of the most rewarding things about my job is seeing how my weekly Young Stroke Service lifts the spirits of the men and women who attend.

John McNaught was referred to my Young Stroke Service at Cardonald College. In 2006, at the age of only 42 and with no warning, he’d suffered a massive stroke. Having lost the use of the right side of his body, in hospital he’d he’d begun painting with his left hand – rediscovering his love of art. Sadly though, after returning home, he sank into a deep depression.

In 2008, he was referred to the Young Stroke Service and his first visit fortuitously coincided with a visit from an art teacher. John’s talent was clear for everyone to see! I was so impressed that I suggested there and then that he sign up for an evening course in Art at the College. A few weeks later he began the classes with Tricia by his side and he continued to attend them for the next two years.

Since then, John has returned to the service to show new service users his paintings and help them to realise what can be achieved after a stroke. Sharing his work with others certainly lifted spirits and shows just how unpredictable the human body can be!

John’s stroke has left him unable to read or write, he struggles with his speech and he relies on an electric wheelchair to get around. However, his flair for art has given him freedom in a way nobody could have predicted. It takes his mind off what he’s gone through and has helped strengthen the left side of his body.

John McNaught from Glasgow

  • Stroke

Read more
Alwyn James
When I suffered a severe stroke at the age of 55, I thought that my career as a professional musician was over. I’d travelled the world singing and playing blues keyboard and harmonica in various bands but the stroke left me unable to use my right hand and with impaired ...
Alwyn's story

When I suffered a severe stroke at the age of 55, I thought that my career as a professional musician was over. I’d travelled the world singing and playing blues keyboard and harmonica in various bands but the stroke left me unable to use my right hand and with impaired speech.

However, thanks to the encouragement of my family, computer software and the help of a rehabilitation facility in Dundee, I’m still releasing albums. I also donate money raised from my CD sales to support CHSS and help others living with the effects of stroke to explore their creative talents.

Alwyn James

  • Stroke

Read more
John & Umar
John: I'm originally from London so had no immediate family or support in the Glasgow area, which left me feeling severely socially isolated. My heart failure nurse felt I would benefit from a befriender so I agreed to try it. Joanne, the Glasgow CHSS coordinator, discovered that I was very ...
Umar & John's story

John: I'm originally from London so had no immediate family or support in the Glasgow area, which left me feeling severely socially isolated. My heart failure nurse felt I would benefit from a befriender so I agreed to try it. Joanne, the Glasgow CHSS coordinator, discovered that I was very interested in music and also in football, cricket, rugby and tennis. From that, I was matched up with Umar in November 2014 and we were soon going out for a coffee and getting along famously.

In the summer of 2015 I was able to return to work but we've since kept in touch by phone, as well as with the occasional visit.

Umar: I volunteered for the CHSS Cardiac & Respiratory Support Service in June 2014. I'm employed as a biomedical scientist so I'm very busy, but I still find the time. Despite the age difference of 37 years, it was soon apparent that John and I had a lot in common.

My shifts sometimes made things difficult but we kept in touch by phone and John always knew that he could call me if he was feeling low. Even now John's back at work, I'll continue to keep in touch as part of the befriender service until he feels settled but we're also planning to keep in touch once he no longer needs the service.

Umar & John from Glasgow

  • Heart

Read more
Gillian Miller
My father died of a massive heart attack in 1990 and my mother, May, died after a second stroke in 2012. Before that though, my mother benefited enormously from the services provided by CHSS, in the nurses on the advice line. This has given my brother, Greig, and I special cause to ...
Gillian's story

My father died of a massive heart attack in 1990 and my mother, May, died after a second stroke in 2012. Before that though, my mother benefited enormously from the services provided by CHSS, in the nurses on the advice line.

This has given my brother, Greig, and I special cause to raise much-needed funds for CHSS. After completing a sponsored walk around Lanark Loch, we set up the Walter and May Miller Sapphire Tribute Fund in our parents’ honour. Now, we can build up the fund whenever we choose to, by taking part in other events or through our monthly donations by direct debit.

Gillian Miller

  • Fundraiser
  • Heart

Read more
Lenny: Before I was diagnosed with COPD, I was struggling to even tie my shoelaces without getting out of breath. It makes it difficult to walk and even to do basic tasks. Of course, it impacts on every aspect of your life because you need to breathe to do everything. ...
Lenny & Marilyn's story

Lenny: Before I was diagnosed with COPD, I was struggling to even tie my shoelaces without getting out of breath. It makes it difficult to walk and even to do basic tasks. Of course, it impacts on every aspect of your life because you need to breathe to do everything.

The Cheyne Gang Choir was set up in 2014 by a group of COPD patients who wanted to use singing as an alternative form of therapy. Since I joined, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my condition. It’s helped my breathing so much; I find myself doing the exercises while watching TV and the difference has been amazing.

Marilyn: Constant chest infections used to be a part of life for me, forcing me to spend days in bed and consume cocktails of antibiotics. I was diagnosed with COPD 18 years ago but I’ve been given my life back by the improvement I’ve seen since I started doing the exercises given to me by the Cheyne Gang Choir.

Before this, I would have said that I was dying of COPD. Now I feel like I’m living with it. Since I started the exercises, I’ve seen a sharp drop in the number of chest infections I’ve had, as well as finding that my breathing is much improved.

Lenny Love & Marilyn Nisbet from Edinburgh

  • Chest

Read more
Graham Murray
I head up an international trouble-shooting operation, serving major clients in Europe, America and Asia. Between family and work – life is very busy and I love every aspect of it. In 2014 though, while working in England, I felt like I was coming down with a heavy cold and it was ...
Graham's story

I head up an international trouble-shooting operation, serving major clients in Europe, America and Asia. Between family and work – life is very busy and I love every aspect of it.

In 2014 though, while working in England, I felt like I was coming down with a heavy cold and it was difficult to breather properly. My symptoms worsened and I was diagnosed with heart failure.

My condition is now managed with medication. Thanks to an additional text messaging support system though, I’ve been able to continue my lifestyle. The system is known as Florence and is part of a pilot project in Lanarkshire. It aims to help patients , like me, who have had hospital treatment for heart failure.

I’ve been provided with equipment and shown how to self-monitor details like my weight and blood pressure. I then text the details to an automated system, programmed by specialist nurses with my individual health details.

The service replies with advice and information, like medication reminders, all based on the latest readings.

Crucially, it can identify flare-ups at the earliest stage. If anyting unusual is detected, I receive an automated message. A specialist nurse is also alerted – who can contact me with advice or help by phone or text message, or even arrange medical assistance if necessary.

I also receive periodic visits from my heart failure nurse. After my initial hospital treatment, I was advised that I required weekly checks. Every Wednesday, wherever I am in the world, I send in my readings. So far, I’ve sent information from Paris, Milan, Hanoi and New York.

I see the Florence system as a safety blanket and international lifeline, all in one. I can get on with my life, knowing there are experts in the background keeping an eye on me.

Graham Murray from Lanark

  • Heart

Read more
Sarah & Mary
Sarah: I have heart failure and was referred to the Glasgow Cardiac & Respiratory Support Service in Summer 2014. Although my husband Roy is at home, I fancied some female company. I was matched with Cath in June 2015. Since then, we’ve enjoyed many a good chat as well as learning new ...
Sarah & Cath's

Sarah: I have heart failure and was referred to the Glasgow Cardiac & Respiratory Support Service in Summer 2014. Although my husband Roy is at home, I fancied some female company.

I was matched with Cath in June 2015. Since then, we’ve enjoyed many a good chat as well as learning new things on the computer and having a few soup making sessions.

However, by far the most enjoyable part of being match with Cath has been the opportunity to get out and about (Roy comes along too). There have been trips for fish & chips, visits to the shops and even a Christmas lunch out. All of these things would have been very difficult without Cath’s help and we all really enjoy these outings.

The next adventure is going to be a visit to the showrooms to look for a new kitchen – which will in turn help with the soup making!

Sarah & Cath

  • Heart

Read more
Mary: My heart failure means that I can’t get out as much as I used to. Although I live with my son, my heart failure nurse thought that visits from a volunteer befriender – someone else to spend time with – would be good for me. My nurse referred me to ...
Janet & Mary's

Mary: My heart failure means that I can’t get out as much as I used to. Although I live with my son, my heart failure nurse thought that visits from a volunteer befriender – someone else to spend time with – would be good for me.

My nurse referred me to the Lanarkshire Cardiac & Respiratory Support Service in September 2013. Within a few weeks, I had my first meeting with Janet, a volunteer befriender with Lanarkshire C&RSS. We arranged to meet once a week and since then we’ve been getting together in my home every Friday morning for a blether, a cuppa and a good laugh.

As well as my cardiac problems, I also live with COPD, so some days can be particularly difficult. As a trained volunteer, but also someone with some personal experience, Janet can appreciate my condition and she provides not only companionship but also support and understanding.

We’ve now been meeting for more than two years and both enjoy our time together. I love the laughs we have and I miss Janet when she’s not here.

Janet & Mary

  • Heart

Read more
Steve Cully Tribute
Steve Cully was a Lauder resident and keen cyclist who died of a heart attack at the age of only 42. Since 2012, the Tour de Lauder cycling event, in which riders can choose between a 50-mile or 89-mile route, has seen cyclists raise money for the Steve Cully Tribute Fund through ...
Steve's story

Steve Cully was a Lauder resident and keen cyclist who died of a heart attack at the age of only 42. Since 2012, the Tour de Lauder cycling event, in which riders can choose between a 50-mile or 89-mile route, has seen cyclists raise money for the Steve Cully Tribute Fund through their entry fee and any additional sponsorship. So far, the event – which is fully supported by Steve’s family - has raised more than £60,000 for CHSS.

The Tour de Lauder team was also awarded the first prize in the Fundraising Group of the Year category by the Institute of Fundraising (Scotland). CHSS Chairman Dr Roger Smith hosted an event at Lauder in August 2014 to thank everyone who had contributed to the event's success. He also introduced consultant cardiologist Dr Peter Henriksen to explain how funds are used to combat heart conditions.

Tour de Lauder Committee

  • Fundraiser
  • Heart

Read more
James Patterson
I’m living proof of how FAST action really works. Early in 2013, I suffered a stroke, having just returned to Stonehaven from a business trip to Italy. My wife, Linda, recalled the FAST campaign message and called the emergency services. FAST action meant that I was able to make a ...
James' story

I’m living proof of how FAST action really works. Early in 2013, I suffered a stroke, having just returned to Stonehaven from a business trip to Italy. My wife, Linda, recalled the FAST campaign message and called the emergency services.

FAST action meant that I was able to make a speedier recovery than would otherwise have been possible. I now chair the Exercise After Stroke Stonehaven group. My experience shows the importance of the ThinkFast campaign. Who knows how things could have turned out had Linda not followed the simple instructions?

James Paterson from Stonehaven

  • Stroke

Read more
Nina & Isobel
Nina: I read an article in my local paper and that prompted me to become a CHSS volunteer befriender. After training, I was matched with Isobel through the Cardiac & Respiratory Support Service in Lanarkshire. Isobel: I have COPD and heart problems. I referred myself to the service after hearing a ...
Nina & Isobel's story

Nina: I read an article in my local paper and that prompted me to become a CHSS volunteer befriender. After training, I was matched with Isobel through the Cardiac & Respiratory Support Service in Lanarkshire.

Isobel: I have COPD and heart problems. I referred myself to the service after hearing a talk by a CHSS coordinator, Alison Stewart, at a local Breathe Easy group. Now Nina and I meet up every week and we get along famously – blethering over a cuppa or making a shopping trip in the car.

Nina has also taken me to a hospital appointment. Not only was she providing transport, more importantly she provided support and companionship.

Nina & Isobel

  • Chest
  • Heart
  • Volunteer

Read more
Maralyn & Roz
Maralyn: I was an original member of the Dunfermline communication Support Service when it began in January 2005. I then started to volunteer at the service and was one of the first volunteers to pilot working with stroke patients at Queen Margaret Hospital. Now I provide support for patients as they ...
Maralyn & Roz's

Maralyn: I was an original member of the Dunfermline communication Support Service when it began in January 2005. I then started to volunteer at the service and was one of the first volunteers to pilot working with stroke patients at Queen Margaret Hospital. Now I provide support for patients as they become well enough to leave hospital and return to their own homes.

Roz is one of the existing Dunfermline service users and I’m supporting her through the whole of her stroke recovery journey.

Roz: Communication difficulties made it difficult for me to be out on my own, but meeting Maralyn has really helped me to grow my confidence and also what I’m able to do. Now I can go to the café we meet at each week and I’m able to order my coffee on my own, something I wasn’t able to do before.

Maralyn Donnelly and Roz Stenhouse from Dunfermline

  • Stroke
  • Volunteer

Read more
Barbara Ann Hogarth & family
I’ve experienced serious health problems since I had a severe stroke in 2011. My husband, Stephen, has been fundraising for CHSS and has so far raised more than £2000. This has included him doing an Extreme Iron Man Challenge, swimming, and climbing Ben Nevis! He also completed the 50-mile route of ...
Barbara Ann's story

I’ve experienced serious health problems since I had a severe stroke in 2011. My husband, Stephen, has been fundraising for CHSS and has so far raised more than £2000. This has included him doing an Extreme Iron Man Challenge, swimming, and climbing Ben Nevis! He also completed the 50-mile route of the CHSS Glasgow to Edinburgh Canal Cycle Ride – and our daughter Carla and I were there to greet him at the Ratho finish line.

Stephen’s hoping to move on to bigger and better adventures in the future, with Carla and myself alongside him.

Barbara Ann Hogarth

  • Fundraiser
  • Stroke

Read more
Hugh McMahon
I’m what you might call a serial abseiler. I’ve abseiled from the Forth Bridge 13 times so far and I’m looking forward to the next one. So far, I’ve raised £3,000 for CHSS through sponsorship. I’m 84 and have a heart condition myself but it’s my experience ...
Hugh's story

I’m what you might call a serial abseiler. I’ve abseiled from the Forth Bridge 13 times so far and I’m looking forward to the next one. So far, I’ve raised £3,000 for CHSS through sponsorship. I’m 84 and have a heart condition myself but it’s my experience of heart disease in my own family that has inspired me to raise funds for CHSS.

My most recent abseil coincided with the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge being opened. CHSS set an overall fundraising sponsorship target of £125,000 for this special abseil event and smashed that target.

Fundraising’s not just important to me now, it’s also something I’m looking to for the future. CHSS is a brilliant charity to remember with a gift in your will because they do great work funding life-saving research and provide much needed advice and support for everyone living with chest, heart and stroke illness in Scotland.

Hugh McMahon

  • Fundraiser
  • Heart

Read more
Neil Gardner
At the age of just 25 I was told that I might never walk again following a stroke. Two years later, I’d fought my way back to fitness to complete a 10k challenge as part of the Great Scottish Run. My team, which included my girlfriend Susan Ramsay, raised £3,000 for ...
Neil's story

At the age of just 25 I was told that I might never walk again following a stroke. Two years later, I’d fought my way back to fitness to complete a 10k challenge as part of the Great Scottish Run.

My team, which included my girlfriend Susan Ramsay, raised £3,000 for CHSS along the way.

At the time of the stroke, this all seemed very unlikely. I’d always been a fitness fan so didn’t seem to be an obvious candidate to experience a stroke. However, I suffered a brain haemorrhage which the doctors put down to a tangle of weakened blood vessels in my brain – a condition I was born with.

My illness and recovery prompted me to volunteer for CHSS. I want to do what I can to help raise awareness of the devastation that can be caused by strokes and give a voice to those who may no longer be able to speak up for what services they need themselves.

Neil Gardner

  • Fundraiser
  • Stroke

Read more
Grant MacLeod
I decided that it would be quite cool to play my bagpipes at the summit of each Munro. Sadly, the day after I came up with this idea, my grandmother died of heart failure. That prompted me to set about raising money for CHSS while completing my challenge. She had ...
Grant's story

I decided that it would be quite cool to play my bagpipes at the summit of each Munro. Sadly, the day after I came up with this idea, my grandmother died of heart failure. That prompted me to set about raising money for CHSS while completing my challenge. She had bought me first set of pipes and was always a great support to me. My challenge will take some years to complete but by October 2014 I’d already managed to bag my 50th Munro.

I’m looking forward to more spectacular views, like this one captured on the snowy tops of Beinn Tulaichean.

Grant MacLeod

  • Fundraiser

Read more
Gordon Sneddon
I have a busy schedule so keeping fit is high on my agenda. As Chair of the Angus Cardiac Group I regularly attend the Parliamentary Cross Party Group for CHD and Stroke. There’s no doubt that exercising will make you healthier and increasing your activity even by a small ...
Gordon's story

I have a busy schedule so keeping fit is high on my agenda. As Chair of the Angus Cardiac Group I regularly attend the Parliamentary Cross Party Group for CHD and Stroke.

There’s no doubt that exercising will make you healthier and increasing your activity even by a small amount can improve your sense of well-being and help you live better with a long-term condition. Also, getting fit can be fun!

Gordon Sneddon

  • Heart

Read more

Load More