DECEMBER 27, 2017 is a date that Vicky Cunliffe will remember for the rest of her life.

While she was still celebrating the festive period at home in Breightmet, the then 47-year-old was taken to hospital after having a stroke.

The lasting repercussions were massive. Half of her skull had to be removed and she has had to learn how to talk and walk again with the help of doctors and her husband.

Mrs Cunliffe, now 49, admitted that the depression it has left her with is so severe that she cannot go out on a main road alone, in case she kills herself.

She said: “I don’t walk so well any more, I have a limp and I can move my left hand but can’t pick anything up with it.

“My head is like a baby’s head, all soft and spongy. I’m scared to death of someone banging into me in the street or falling.

“I’m having a Cranioplasty where they fit a metal plate in your skull. I’ll be singing ‘I am titanium’ after that.”

Strokes happen when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. They can be life-threatening.

There are two main causes of strokes: ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot, accounting for 85 per cent of all cases; and haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.

They can often leave survivors feeling helpless and have lasting effects on their brain.

Mrs Cunliffe added: “I feel like a hindrance to everyone. I completely rely on my husband.

“I’m bad with my numbers and the vast majority of us have really bad memory loss.

“It’s short term memory loss so I’ll forget what I did ten minutes ago and forget why I’ve gone to the shop.”

Stroke is the largest single cause of disability in adults and the third biggest cause of death.

There are currently 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK according to the Stroke Association’s State of the Nation report.

Another young stroke survivor originally from Bolton is Hazel Taylor.

The former nursery nurse from Breightmet suffered her stroke in January, 2015, when she was 48 years old.

Now living in Cleveleys, near Blackpool, Mrs Taylor is hoping to use her experiences along with her husband’s talents to raise money for the Different Strokes charity.

She said: “My stroke left me visually impaired and it has changed a lot of my life.

“I’ve gone from having a full time job as a senior in a nursery to nothing.

“My husband is a spiritualist medium so we’re putting on an event in Little Lever to raise money for Different Strokes.

“Different Strokes helps young stroke survivors claim their lives back and they don’t rely on lottery funding.

“People think it’s just older people that have strokes and there is no support for younger survivors but there’s me and Vicky. There’s also a lady in her 20s, who doesn’t want to give her story because she has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from it.”

Different Strokes was set up in 1996 in direct response to a need from younger stroke survivors to be able to reclaim their lives, challenging previously existing views of stroke recovery and changing the term for stroke sufferers from ‘victim’ to ‘survivor’.

Jo Aurora, the charity’s fundraising manager said: “We were delighted when Hazel contacted us about holding an evening of clairvoyance in aid of Different Strokes.

“Our fundraisers are very important to us and we appreciate the time people invest in us to help us support the increasing number of younger stroke survivors in the UK.

“Recent research told us that 84 per cent of the public still believe strokes only happen to the elderly when in fact a quarter of all strokes happen to people under the age of 65. Stroke is particularly devastating to this age group who often have families to raise and careers to fulfil.

“Different Strokes is a small charity of just nine mainly part time staff but we like to say we are small but mighty. We pride ourselves on the peer support we facilitate and we recognise that the Different Strokes community of younger stroke survivors and family members are the experts in stroke recovery and rehabilitation with first-hand knowledge of the issues and challenges facing families after stroke.

“The money raised by Hazel will support younger survivors in a number of ways; we are currently launching a new befriending service to support teenagers and young adults and next year we hope to provide more support to carers and family members of stroke survivors as well as our main services of a helpline, information and regional groups. - Thank you Hazel."

If you or anyone you know is a young stroke survivor and is in need of any support, you can contact Different Strokes by phone on 0345 130 7172, or by emailing