Andy Clay

Patient representative

Side-by-Side

My role

I am a patient representative for Side-by-Side, as well as a full time Gardener on an Estate.

My background

In 2009 I had a stroke - a Hyper Acute Partial Middle Cerebral Infarct. After running an online group for stroke survivors, I made a decision to create a real life support group; I started this group with my friend and fellow Side-by-Sider, Ranj Parmar, who has also had a Stroke. We instantly became the best of friends. More recently Jo Elliott, another stroke survivor, has become part of our support group. Our main aim is for younger stroke survivors in the Southampton area. We are named Different Strokes Southampton. We work closely with universities, the NHS, research organisations and other support groups, making a difference to people’s lives.

I left school at 14yrs of age, with no exams taken, an underdog so to speak, with only the knowledge of nature under my belt, and went straight into Horticulture. It’s in my blood, as my whole family are Gardeners of sorts. I love the outdoors, and find it very therapeutic working in this environment, it’s the only kind I know.

Why I love being in Side-by-Side

The Side-By Side group is what it says in the name; a group of us work alongside one another, including NHS professionals. To think this has only come about from me having a stroke, and the possibilities are endless of which we evoke. If we as a group can help make a difference in some way, then surely the NHS can only get better day by day.

More about me

A few years after my Stroke, I discovered that I was able to rhyme words together, and create some inspiring poems. (So I have been told) I write daily using my phone as a jotter. I also find this very calming.