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Survivor calls for better awareness of signs of stroke

Daughter helped save 87-year-old with quick-thinking

24 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Fred Rooke with his daughter Hazel

A PENSIONER who suffered a stroke on Mother’s Day is raising awareness about the vital signs of the medical emergency.

Fred Rooke wants more people to know about the basic symptoms of a stroke and the right action to take. The 87-year-old, who lives in Holloway, was taken to the hyper-acute stroke unit at University College Hospital, Euston Road, after his daughter spotted his mouth droop on one side in March 2015.

Mr Rooke said: “I honestly believe a miracle happened to me on that day. I’m very lucky, and also owe a lot of thanks to the amazing doctors and nurses who treated me so quickly. I want to raise awareness of the FAST advert and advice because, without it, I don’t think I’d be here today telling this story.

Mr Rooke, a former competitive swimmer and PE teacher, added: “I’d tell anyone who thinks they may be ­having a stroke to act FAST and get help immediately.”

The Stroke Association FAST test lists the basic common symptoms of a stroke and the right action to take:
l Face: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
l Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms? l Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
l Time to call 999. By chance a paramedic was in the area and got there within five minutes of Mr Rooke’s daughter, Hazel’s 999 call.

She said: “I remember looking at Dad and instantly saw the worrying changes. Time, I knew, was crucial, so I calmly told my dad to stay where he was and dialled 999. Within an hour Dad had been given the clot-busting drug thrombolysis, had a scan and was recovering.”

She added: “Dad is an amazing man. Even at 87 years old he is still keeping fit. Thankfully he has recovered really well and still regularly swims once a week, completing 40 lengths each swim. We look back at what happened that day and can’t believe how things unfolded and how fate played its part. The fact that it was Mother’s Day and we were visiting; that we had arrived extra early; that I was talking to Dad rather than ­cooking in the kitchen whilst waiting for the job to be done, and even that the paramedic was in the area so close to the house.”

Michell Dalmacio, from the Stroke Association, said: “A stroke is a medical emergency – as serious as a heart attack, so you need to seek immediate medical help. “The quicker a person arrives at a specialist stroke unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment to ­minimise the impact of their stroke.”

To find out more about the stroke symptoms visit


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