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I always wanted to be a performer.
And although I was lucky enough to embark upon my dream career,
not everything was easy.
-I have a stammer. I'm finding it hard...
-Take it easy.
My name is...
Just take your time.
Singing came naturally to me. Speaking didn't.
For me, ten years ago, standing on this stage, and trying to even
say a few words, let alone perform, would have been inconceivable.
From the age of four,
I've struggled with a debilitating stammer.
It plagued me at school, it affected my self-confidence,
I couldn't be the person that I wanted to be.
So I know only too well what it's like to struggle
with a stammer every moment of every day.
31-year-old Heidi has had a severe stammer all of her life.
She stammers on one in three syllables.
I suppose to speak
Heidi's stammer has always made her feel like an outsider.
Every time I
came back to school I cried.
Determined her speech difficulties would not hold her back,
Heidi excelled academically, gaining a first-class degree.
But when she began to pursue her chosen career as a psychologist,
she was told she may never be accepted
in the job with her stammer.
To be told the stammer
would stop me
leading the life
that I wanted to
Stammering is often a misunderstood condition.
It's a neurological disorder that's not caused by being nervous,
anxious or shy.
However, a stammer can seriously disrupt
all areas of a person's life,
and that's why I'm supporting the British Stammering Association,
the UK's national charity that works to support both adults and children
who are affected by stammering.
This is four-year-old Zachary.
18 months ago he was like any other happy little boy.
Then almost overnight, his mum, Maria, noticed a change in him.
He started to have trouble with beginning his sentences.
There'd just be this long pause
and his whole body would tense and he was unable to get the word out.
Then he started to get distressed by it
and he'd start to try and say something,
then he'd put his head in his hands and say,
"My words won't come. I can't talk any more."
It was so hard to see him that distressed
and to not know what to do to help him.
As Zachary's stammer got worse
Maria worried how he would cope in the future.
He became quite introverted,
didn't want to interact with other children.
He would stand by me
and wouldn't answer any questions if anybody chatted to him.
I felt it might affect his whole school life.
Fortunately, there is a charity that can help people like Zachary.
The British Stammering Association
offers relief and support to prevent the negative effects of stammering.
They provide unique information, advice and support services
to those who often have nowhere else to turn.
Good evening, everybody.
Also known as the BSA, the British Stammering Association
supports many services, like this Stammering Support Centre in Leeds.
If I can just explain...
Dr Trudy Stewart is the director of the centre.
Here at the Stammering Support Centre, we aim for each individual
to be able to say what they want to say, when they want to say it.
As well as working with patients on a one-to-one basis,
the centre runs group courses and self-help activities for all ages.
..I was 11...
'The teenagers are working on self-esteem
'and confidence in their communication skills.'
For adults, it might be about reducing their avoidance,
'getting them less sensitive to their stammering.'
Well, as yet, I've been...
The groups help individuals speak in challenging situations
and manage their stammer effectively.
'You have the support'
of the other members of the group
so you get a sense of the problem being normalised.
It's just not my problem but it's one that other people have too.
From social and support groups,
advice on therapies, to guidance on employment issues,
the BSA provide a range of vital services
for adults and their families.
They do as much as they can to enable everyone
who is affected by a stammer to get the most out of life.
The BSA helped Heidi through her studies, giving her guidance
and support when she needed it the most.
She has now fulfilled her ambition
and is working as a clinical psychologist.
that they gave me
changed my life,
Because now I'm doing
a job that I love.
With intervention through speech and language therapy
before the age of five, children who stammer
have the best possible chance of recovering normal fluent speech.
-I think it's a Gruffalo.
-You think it's a Gruffalo!
And that's exactly how the BSA helped Zachary.
People who meet him for the first time now
say they would never be able to tell that he was a stammerer.
'He'll chat away to people quite happily.'
I saved that again, didn't I?
And he's back to the happy, confident little boy
that we had before.
With your help, the British Stammering Association
can make a real difference to the lives of adults
and children who stammer throughout the UK,
and ensure that everyone affected can get the support that they need.
Please go to the website, where you can donate.
If you don't have access to the internet, then call.
And if you can't get through, please keep trying.
You can also donate £10 by texting.
Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge
and the whole £10 goes to the British Stammering Association.
Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.
Telephone calls are free from most landlines.
Some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.
Or if you'd like to post a donation,
please make your cheque payable to The British Stammering Association
and send it to: Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,
writing "The British Stammering Association"
on the back of the envelope.
Remember, if you're a UK taxpayer,
the charity can collect Gift Aid on your donation, worth another 25%.
Just send in a note to say you want your donation
to be subject to Gift Aid, and include the date,
your full name and address.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd