A FORMER engineering company worker who suffered a stroke and lost his ability to speak is now helping others who suffered from the same condition.

Colin Lyall, from Brighton, had a stroke six years ago and was bed-ridden in hospital for two weeks.

He had lost his ability to speak, write, and read because of a condition called aphasia, which occurs when the left side of the brain is damaged.

“When I was in hospital all I could do was say yes, no, or swear,” Colin, who lives in Withdean, said.

“I was in there for about two weeks and wanted to go home. Only then I started to realise I had had a stroke.

“I had speech therapy for about three months and then continued being monitored by the hospital for about six months. It took a long time.”

After a long battle with aphasia, the 57-year-old has now regained his ability to speak and “can hold a conversation quite well,” he said.

Colin then decided to set up Say Aphasia, a support group for residents who suffer from the condition.

Colin said: “About 350,000 in the UK have aphasia, meaning they can’t read, write, or speak.

“I was very lucky to have all of this support and now I can hold a conversation quite well.

“But I still can’t read or write too well, so everything from my old job is gone.

“ So I decided to set up Say Aphasia to help people affected by the same thing.”

The charity has five support groups across Sussex helping those affected by the condition and runs a monthly art session.

Last week Colin ran his first Say Aphasia art exhibition in the Onca gallery in London Road, Brighton.

His own painting, a

Picasso-like portrait, featured alongside artwork created by Say Aphasia members.

“Plenty of people in the class hadn’t done art before but it’s amazing to see them be able to express themselves,” Colin said. “A lot of them can’t read or write, some of them can’t even speak. But they paint so well.

“Some rubbish it completely and say they don’t like art and have never done it, but when it’s the only way they can communicate freely it’s very liberating.”

Now Colin and daughter Lauren, who helps run Say Aphasia, have set up a very different event.

On September 21, the charity will hold the Crafty Dog Festival in Preston Park, to raise awareness of aphasia.

A dog show and agility trials will take place, while fashionable pooch accessories will be on sale.

The event is free and will take place from 10am to 4pm.

Those who want more information should email lauren@sayaphasia.com.

To find out more, visit www.sayaphasia.co.uk.