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Living with a stammer: Why I won’t be silenced this International Stammering Awareness Day

Posted on - 22nd October, 2019 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Health, People, Preston News, UCLan, University
Jack Dinsley with Dr Radha and Katie Thistleton from BBC Radio 1's Life Hacks
Jack with Dr Radha and Katie Thistleton from BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks

Have you ever been talking to someone and then out of the blue you can’t finish the end of your sentence? Ever since I was young this has been me. I have been battling having a stammer ever since I can remember.

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A stammer affects someone’s speech and their ability to talk to someone. Everyone’s stammer is different and special to them – there’s no specific stammer that makes their’s worse than yours.

I have always been passionate about performing, and this led me to a career in Journalism. After battling my stammer throughout the education system, I decided to finish off my studies at the University of Central Lancashire.

I was either going to study Drama or Journalism, and for me my passion was drawn towards Journalism. I wanted to make sure I was in an environment that would encourage me to come out of my shell, and make me want to keep on bettering myself.

The lecturers at the university are second to none, and have always pushed me to be myself and to be confident. It also helped that the BA Journalism Course Leader, Caroline Hawtin has had a stammer herself. For someone with a stammer it’s a lot easier for them to relate to someone if they themselves have a stammer also – so this made it a lot better for me.

Read more: Why Preston’s university is saying ‘Cake Not Hate’

Caroline said: “I had a stammer when I was younger. I always remember a teacher at school used to make me read aloud in class and I thought she was making fun of me – actually she was helping me.

“Acting in school plays helped me too. I still stammer occasionally now so I know what it’s like.”

Caroline has had a great career in media and that for me is inspirational having her as my Course Leader makes me want to be as successful as her. Just like Caroline, I was involved in plays for a while, and it helped me build my confidence. I enjoyed playing someone that wasn’t me. I played roles of characters that didn’t stammer – and I didn’t stammer when playing those roles.

Jack Dinsley
Jack sees the positives in his stammer

As today (Tuesday 22 October) is International Stammering Awareness Day, I am promoting the positives of having a stammer, and embracing what you have.

Read more: Tales from a survivor on World Sepsis Day

There’s no point in me wishing that I didn’t have a stammer because I have one – I might as well embrace it. Over the past couple of months, I have had articles published in newspapers and online and I’ve recently recorded for BBC Radio 1’s podcast Life Hacks. I talked about how my stammer hasn’t impacted on my journey of becoming a children’s TV presenter and that I hope I can be that person I wish I was watching when I was younger.

Preston has been somewhere I have thrived. UCLan has made me confident over the three years of me being there, and it’s allowed me to gain placements around the country. I have written for different platforms, which has given me a voice. I am very grateful for the city that is Preston and for the opportunities it has given someone with a stammer – and not silencing them.

Jack had speech therapy to help him with his stammer. If you or someone you know has a stammer and you’d like to seek help, see your GP. For online advice and support visit The British Stammering Association’s website, stamma.org.

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