Viv and Ellis

Viv had a stroke in 1997, at which point she returned from Greece to England. She and her partner Ellis describe their lives as changing completely at that point. He talks about her extreme difficulty in communicating, and her lack of confidence in her ability to get messages across to people at that time. Oh God, YES adds Viv, miming a person who hides sheepishly behind her hand. This he describes as only changing when she came to Connect, and when she started to visit Greece once again. At Connect, Ellis says Viv gained confidence in her own communication skills, coming to realise that, as he puts it, There is always a way to communicate it. Its not only words that carry the meaning. He says that equally important was the realisation that other people can be patient and wait. He does however still describe many difficult situations where people avoid communication with Viv, or address her as if she were not intelligent because of her communication difficulties.

Contributing her own thoughts on coming to Connect, Viv adds:

Oh God wonderful, very good. Through gesture and pointing she affirms very assertively the benefits she has enjoyed from meeting others with aphasia and working with the staff Honestly, very good.

Viv now communicates through a powerful mixture of speech, facial expression, gesture, mime, drawing and writing. She is in the process of developing a portfolio of personal information and artwork. She and Ellis describe the difficulty she has faced in returning to her painting; giving up her initial attempts to copy drawings because they did not match her previous standard, then gradually learning to use colour and to draw on the inspiration of her own imagination once again.

Viv recently left the group to live in Greece once more. She hopes to keep in touch with her friends at Connect through the website and occasional visits.


Before her stroke Viv was living on a small Aegean island, where she spent a lot of her time painting. She describes her life in Greece, her painting and her love of music with great enthusiasm. Viv and her partner Ellis also ran a small bar, where she was very popular. Ellis describes Viv as being an extrovert and enjoying a very lively social life; he says that people flocked round her wherever she went.

Ellis talks about the atmosphere at Connect as being one of its most important facets.Its very inspiring, very light and happy. Its like youre welcomed to the Ritz at the reception.