At home with one of his winning works
is Richard Topping who won at the `Life After Stroke
Awards' in Claridges Hotel in London. BBC Star Tony
Hart presented Richard with his award. �S24-420PM
BRAVE Maghaberry man Richard Topping has
shown that there is life after a stroke by picking up an Art
Award at a ceremony in London
last week. 38-year-old Richard was honoured
at a glamorous ceremony in Claridges Hotel in London last
Thursday (June 8) where he was presented a fine piece of crystal
by Tony Hart at The Stroke Association's annual Life After
Richard, who suffered a stroke whilst on
holiday in the USA in 2003 when he was just 35, was delighted to
receive recognition for the hard work he has put into his
recovery despite all the odds.
"It was an experience to remember," he said.
"I was nominated by a girl called Kelly Anderson who runs the
Moving On project through the Chest, Heart and Stroke
Association after I recently took up water-colour painting
and I've been painting since then.
"I've learnt to walk again which was a big
thing as the doctors felt it would be very difficult for me with
the amount of brain damage I suffered.
"I was left handed and my whole left side is
completely paralysed so I've had to learn to Jo everything with
my right side, my therapist thought it would be good for me to
"I went to a tuition class in the Island
Centre for a 12-week course last September. Unfortunately it
finished at Easter but I learnt some tips and techniques and now
if I get a free half hour or an hour I'll paint.
"The Stroke Association award those who try
to improve their life after a stroke. It was wonderful to
receive the award from Tony Hart who was a good painter on
television when I was a teenager.
"He is 80 now and suffered a stroke himself a
few years ago, he was really good to talk to and really
complimented my painting which was nice.
"I was well looked after at the awards
ceremony and I was allowed to bring three guests with me so it
was a real family thing.
"It was really well supported by all the
local celebrities, I had brought my wife Gillian and my mum and
sister with me and they thought it was brilliant, my mum is
really into Eastenders so she loved meeting some of the cast
from it. Sarah Greene was also there and was really nice and
Andy Bell from Erasure was great too.
"It was nice to be treated special for a day,
I'm not sure if that was the purpose but it worked. Recovering
from a stroke can get you down, it's hard work but it is worth
it, I've got to beat it. I think of a stroke as a thief, all it
does is steal things and now that I've learnt something through
my painting I'm able to reclaim some of my independence."
Richard was a Consultant Building Services
Engineer before his stroke and has since overcome countless
difficulties, proving that he can move on and reach his goals.
Having spent a year in a wheelchair;
determined Richard has not only learnt how to walk again, but he
has reached his goal of walking to his local shop every morning,
something which he is very proud of.
He said, "It's hard work, but you have to
adapt, they said I may not be able to walk again but I now walk
to my local shop each morning to buy a paper, that was a goal of
mine and I have done it but I'm still learning.
"It's not the fact that I can paint, it's
using the non-dominant hand that's important. The thing I find
most difficult is removing the paint lids, you need to use both
hands so I have to use my mouth, which won't please my dentist.
Now my wife wants me to paint the fence."
Richard's artwork will also be going on
display at the Stroke Association in London.
He explained: "I'm not selling my paintings
but the Stroke Association liked them so I donated them. They
will be being displayed in their new offices with a little
plaque explaining what they are and who painted them, which is
"Being at the awards seeing people who have
been so courageous made me realise that there are always those
who arc worse than me, it made me feel that if they can do it, I
can do it. It was just a really good experience."
Jon Barrick, Chief Executive of The Stroke
Association commented: "Stroke is the leading cause of severe
disability in the UK, yet Richard has managed to courageously
overcome the effects of his stroke and become an excellent
"I would like to congratulate Richard on his
remarkable achievement and hope that he will inspire the
estimated 150,000 people that have a stroke in the UK each year,
that for many there is life after stroke."