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May 7 2013.

Steve Saunders writes:

Following Cllr Page's comments last week and those of others, I thought I'd share my experiences of what has been a hectic few days.

On Thursday I, as did many others, voted in the County Council Elections. It was an event that, despite what Cllr. Page suggested, I did not mention in my comments over the Water Park announcement. I did not mention any one by name, nor did I mention any political party. It was never my intent to affect voting intentions.
I don't think that the announcement, or the comments made on Haven News made any difference to the results on the day, when counted on Friday. It is clear that those who did turn out to vote wanted to send out a message to national government, rather than to local politicians. I have no regrets over the results of the elections, or the way in which we sent out our message about what we have done, or would have done, for people locally. I think that all the main parties played fair in the main, and apart from the scandalous immigration scaremongering of one party, (which is something that County Councillors can not affect), everyone focused on genuine local issues.
On Friday evening, I attended a charity fundraiser at Newhaven Social Club, organised by Newhaven's Mayor, Graham Amy. It was raising money for his charity, the Community Responders. This is a new group of volunteers who assist the NHS Paramedics, providing a useful service to help the hard-pressed Ambulance Service.
On Saturday afternoon on the way back from watching my son play his last football match of the season for Ringmer FC, our drive home was interrupted by a frantic phone call from my mother who needed my help as my dad was very unwell and she didn't know what to do.

I rushed round and found him dazed and confused and unable to form words or communicate. His face was slightly drooped on one side and I knew that he was having a stroke. I asked my son to call the ambulance and then followed the instructions I was given to assess his condition.

Within minutes there was a knock at the door and who should be there....? Nigel Ring of the Community Responders. He quickly continued the assessment and then on the arrival of the Paramedics, passed my dad over to their care. Before I had a chance to thank him...... he was gone.

In hospital, dad's speech came and went, but on Sunday morning it was clear that his communicative abilities had been badly affected.

I set about working with my mum and partner Sharon to understand his frustrating attempts to talk to us and explain what he felt and wanted. He understood us completely and was physically in good shape. He knew what he wanted to say, but could not get that message from his brain out to the world. The strange thing was, that he could not write things down either. He could read, but not write. It was as if there was a one way barrier between his mind and the outside world.

We all pressed on together. He is a man that does not like to lose, a trait he passed on to me and we started by getting him to copy the letters of the alphabet and pointing to those letters to help us understand the words he wanted to say and getting him to write down names. It worked. after popping out for something to eat, we returned to a note he had written to my mum.......' I love you', he had written. It was a little wobbly, but it was as clear as day and my mum smiled for the first time since Saturday afternoon.

We have all worked hard to find different ways to improve things for my dad, who is going from strength to strength. It's important too, to not assume what he wants, but to give him time to let US know what he wants to say. No matter how long it takes, it is better to let him tell us.

I guess this weekend has confirmed many things for me:

The importance of local volunteers and people who care about others; How much I care about my family; How much I rely on others in my community and most of all; The value of communication and taking time to make sure that we fully understand what others want, before assuming and making unwise judgments on their behalf.

Before signing off, I'd like to thank Nigel and the Community Responders, the paramedics and ambulance staff at Newhaven, the wonderful team at the RSCH and in particular the brilliant nurses and doctors in the speciallist stroke unit at the Donald Hall ward at the hospital caring for my dad.

I know he'll continue to improve and I don't want to not be able to talk to, or communicate with him in the future. We've got too much to talk about.

Steve Saunders