A woman suffered a stroke - and woke up in hospital speaking with a Welsh accent.

Debbie Ballard, 53, came round with her south coast accent replaced with a voice from the Valleys.

She suffered a stroke and developed Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) – which causes the victim to lose their normal tone of speech.

Mrs Ballard, of Langney, Eastbourne, said: “I got a bit embarrassed about it at first but everybody who has heard me said they think it's sweet.

“I spoke to the doctor about it and he said as long as I’m not in pain everything should be alright.

“I must admit when I was talking I was looking in the mirror and talking to myself, I was trying to work it out and was getting a bit upset.

“I can see the funny side of it all now.

“It’s the strangest thing. I’ve never even been to Wales, or Scotland or Liverpool, yet people keep telling me that I sound just like them.

“There are certain words I can’t say at all. 'Cat' always comes out as 'cot' now, which is a bit annoying, because I’ve got pet cats.

“The doctor just kept asking me to talk because he was fascinated.

“He said I definitely have Foreign Accent Syndrome, and that sometimes it goes away, other times it doesn’t.

“I hope it does, it was devastating at first. I have to admit I had a cry. And then it got funny for a while, but now it’s starting to get old again. My husband joked that he married me because I was a Londoner, and if he wanted to marry a Welsh girl he would go and live there. I want it back to normal now.”

Senior healthcare assistant Mrs Ballard, mother to Ben, 23, and Richard, 26, has never lived in Wales.

Her husband Guy said: “Even though she doesn’t like the Welsh accent, it was quite surprising.

“But I still love her the way she is.”

Experts say FAS causes a 'drawing out' or 'clipping' of the vowels that mimics an accent even though the patient has limited exposure to that country.

FAS was first identified during the Second World War when a Norwegian woman was hit by shrapnel during an air raid. She suffered brain damage and developed a strong German accent, which led to her being ostracised by her community in 1941.