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Rochdale Changing Lifestyles hero wins regional award
- 12 November 2014
In a glittering evening, Greater Manchester's unsung sporting heroes were honoured by Olympian Iwan Thomas, at this year's Greater Manchester Sports Awards sponsored by ANS. Each nominee in a range of categories had already been crowned champion, in their local sports awards, before going through to the shortlist for the Greater Manchester-wide awards which took place at The Point, Emirates Old Trafford on Friday 7 November. BBC North West Tonight presenter Roger Johnson hosted the event with BBC Radio Manchester broadcasting live online as official media partners of the event.
Roger Varnom had his first stroke in 1995 which affected the right side of his body making it difficult to use his right arm or leg on that side. He was later diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000. In January 2013 Roger had a second stroke which was a real set back but after months of rehabilitation and intense physiotherapy Roger was determined to get back on his feet and be more active than after his first stroke. He realised that at the age of 70 it would not be as easy to recover the second time round.
Determined, he took part in an eight week NHS fitness course designed to help stroke survivors and then continued his active recovery with Link4Life at Heywood Sports Village on a 12 week GP referral programme. This included a gym induction where he got the fitness bug and he has since trained in the gym three times a week.
In February 2014 Roger joined the Stroke Active group at Rochdale Leisure Centre and took part in a wide range of activities including walking football, badminton, relaxation/yoga sessions and also continued to use the fitness facilities.
Roger has since taken part in the first walking football tournament in the country where he helped his team get through to the semi–finals. The Rochdale Strollers are the only team made up of predominately men recovering from strokes and Roger has played a key part in helping promote the session and the work of the Stroke Association.
Roger's well-being, both physically and mentally continues to improve daily, which he explains not only impacts on his own quality of life but also his family and friends. He said, "I put a lot of my progress down to regular exercise, an improved diet and a positive outlook on life and I no longer see my physical impairment as a barrier. I now enjoy not only a more active life but also the social aspect of being involved as a member of Link4Life. Their support, and that from my family, has really made a big difference to me."
Since starting the stroke active group he is no longer kept awake at night with pain in his legs and his improved stability makes him more confident in undertaking everyday tasks. By continuing his daily activities he is reducing his risk of another stroke by a quarter.
Paul Gardner, Health Activities Officer at Link4Life has been supporting Roger during his activity programme. "Roger sets himself personal goals and now has a regular routine which has enabled him to get up every morning with a plan of indoor and outdoor hobbies and activities," said Paul. "Roger is a great example of someone who will not let his disability stop him and proof that after two strokes and treatment for cancer you can still continue to be active and improve your quality of life. He is a great inspiration to all he meets and the regional Changing Lifestyles award is a fitting recognition of this."
Organised by Greater Manchester sports charity, GreaterSport and event organisers Journey 9, and in its 14th year, the Greater Manchester Awards are held to honour the achievements of people involved in grassroots sport across the region.
Yvonne Harrison, CEO of GreaterSport, organisers of the event, said: "GreaterSport is proud to host these annual awards to be able to recognise and celebrate these individuals and clubs who are working week in, week out to make a difference in their local communities."
"The nominees at the Greater Manchester Sports Awards are the people that are making sport happen across our county, and without them and people like them, community sport would not be what it is."
An additional award was this year given to Richard Saunders, who retired from his post as Chief Executive at GreaterSport in July, he was awarded a special recognition award, for his achievements' to community sport since starting the Greater Manchester Youth Games in 1999.