Despite several celebrities such as pop star Ed Sheeran and Melrose’s Scottish rugby captain Kelly Brown talking openly about the condition, many of us don’t know what to do when talking to a person who stammers.
We tend to either try to finish their sentences for them or be visibly awkward while we wait for them to find their words. However, the chair of the UK’s stammering charity is walking the length of Britain to raise awareness about the condition.
He is doing the whole distance of 1,000 miles unaided, and is inviting people to join him in conversation about stammering along the way – and he’ll be walking through the region later this month.
Tim Fell, chairman of the British Stammering Association, is doing the mammoth distance over two months to raise awareness of the condition that affects 700,000 people across the UK.
He’ll be walking from Melrose to Jedburgh on August 15, and continues onto Rochester on his way to Newcastle, on August 16, when he will be joined by his brother, rural entrepreneur Hugh Fell.
Tim said: “Stammering affects hundreds of thousands of people regardless of background, profession, race, religion or politics. People who stammer often say that their speech makes them feel isolated and ashamed. This is why I’m walking the length of the country and talking to people who stammer along the way.
“We need to change the conversation around stammering from one of awkwardness to one of confidence. It’s only by talking about stuttering openly, by all of us, that society will understand the issues around it.”
This event will be the first of its kind to bring the stammering community together, and to share information with anyone who is interested in learning more.
Giving background to this marathon, Hugh said: “Tim stammered appallingly badly when he was young and indeed up until quite recently.
“One of the most emotional moments recently for me was his eldest daughter’s wedding when he stood up and delivered a quite amazing and flawless speech.
“What the BSA is doing is effectively restoring self-confidence back to people – high impact stuff. I am looking forward to supporting Tim and having some memorable conversations along the way.”
Anyone who wants to join Tim on the walk, or be part of the conversation, can follow his progress on the map on the BSA website www.stammering.org/stamwalk.
Tim is fundraising for the BSA and began walking on July 27, hoping to finish on September 21. You can also follow the walk via Twitter @bsafell or on the stamwalk blog at www.stammering.org/stamwalkblog