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Flower power: Michael opens his garden to raise money for stroke unit that treated him

07 April 2015

Health Care

When flower expert and former estate agent, Michael Dedman, suffered two strokes early in 2014, he was so impressed with the pioneering treatment and recovery he made thanks to Southend University Hospital’s acute stroke unit, that he plans to hold a charity garden event to raise funds for both the unit and the Stroke Association.

Michael's Grade II listed house (not open to the public) features a delightful 1-acre established walled garden and a bee house. You can expect to see new agapanthus and hydrangea beds and April is also ablaze with thousands of tulips and fritillaries.

Since retiring from the property business at the end of the 90s Michael has remained a busy man in the community and wears many hats including that of school governor, gardener, chairman of a historic conservation group and now, due to suffering two strokes, ambassador for stroke awareness and treatment. Michael is no stranger to charity because his charitable work for the National Garden Scheme (NGS) has raised in excess of £25k for various charities.

Michael puts his strokes down to a combination of things: "I think it was a bit of lifestyle and stress," he admits. "The procedure I had at the hospital was only the second one ever performed by the world renowned stroke surgeon, Professor Iris Grunwald. There was no time wasted with the treatment I got and people were looking after me 24 hours a day. I can only speak highly of the stroke unit because all staff from all levels had professionalism and commitment which was brilliant."

Southend University Hospital's dedicated stroke unit offers a 24-hour 'clot-busting' service and brain scans within 24 hours of the stroke. This procedure dramatically increases chances of recovery following an attack. The unit has emergency and rehabilitation wards side-by-side, a purpose-built gym and a patient information centre.

"When I went to the stroke ward I was treated with great professionalism right from day one," Michael recalls. "The evaluation included exhaustive hands-on short tests relating to balance, eye sight; all the sorts of things that could be affected by stroke. I was pleased because I had constant attention and I was never left alone for a few minutes. This made me feel less vulnerable." 

Basing their care plan on the National Clinical Guidelines for stroke, Southend University Hospital offers a large team consisting of many professionals specialising in stroke care including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians and stroke support workers.

"I was actually looking forward to the procedure because I was told about it in advance which is important," confesses Michael. "I had ten interested parties lined up looking at me and said 'it's not often I have ten people looking at my groin' which got them all laughing. All of the consultants named themselves and explained what they do. All I can speak about is praise."

Twelve months on from his stroke and Michael feels stronger, is back in the gym and still cracking jokes and keeping busy, especially in his beloved garden. His recovery has been significant and now he sees his passion for gardening as a major part of his recovery and rehabilitation. "I love my garden and still do gardening work. I think that's quite important because, as many people say, gardening is a good therapy and I think that relates to stroke recovery as well."

Michael will be hoping to raise a good sum of money for both Southend University Hospital's stroke unit and the Stroke Association when he opens his gardens to the public on Sunday 26 April.  Tea, coffee and cake will be available and representatives from both Southend Hospital and the Stroke Association will be available to answer any questions or concerns related to strokes and stroke treatment.

"Since I've had the stroke, the Stroke Association and Southend University Hospital mean a lot to me. It's wonderful to see the stroke team do well for me and for the Southend area. I think Southend University Hospital has total excellence in many disciplines and if it can grow a little more it's going to benefit the people of South East Essex.

Michael's extensive garden will be open on Sunday 26 April from 2pm to 5pm at South Shoebury Hall, Church Road, Shoebury, SS3 9DN. Entry fee is £3.50 and children go free. Tea, coffee and cakes will also be available. Parking is available in Church Road. 100% of the proceeds will be donated equally between Southend University Hospital's Acute Stroke Unit and the Stroke Association.