A 58-year-old man from Wellington who suffered a stroke in 2012 is urging people to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms as a new campaign launches. 

Public Health England has today (February 1) launched the Act F.A.S.T. stroke campaign in the South West which urges the public to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves, or in others.

The signs are:

Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?

Speech – is their speech slurred?

Time – time to call 999

Somerset County Gazette:

Mr Leyland who has decided to share his experience. 

Paul Leyland, 58, from Wellington in Somerset suffered a stroke in 2012 and is now working with PHE to spread awareness.

He said: “In 2012, I had a stroke while on holiday in Cornwall and now I’m encouraging people to learn to recognise the signs of stroke in themselves and others.

“I'd been enjoying the last day of the holiday with my family when I decided to stop off at a supermarket for a cooked breakfast. Something in my head registered that I was having a stroke as I recognised the signs from the Act F.A.S.T. TV ad. I could feel a wave of numbness moving from my head down, and weakness spreading inside my body and became very unsteady. I couldn’t imagine what else it could have been.

“Fortunately, my family were able to help me to the supermarket, where staff called 999 for an ambulance and I was rushed to hospital within an hour. Initially, my vision and emotions were severely affected, and I was left with numbness down the left-hand side of my body, some of which continues today.

Mr Leyland has been working with Headway Somerset to rebuild his life after the stroke.

He says the support has changed his life and he feels healthier in some ways than he did before the stroke. 

He added: “But with support from Headway Somerset I have rebuilt my life, and in many ways feel fitter than I did before the stroke: walking twice a day and doing yoga.

"I have also been able to return to my career in film and as an artist and have worked with a support group to help others affected by stroke.”

Debbie Stark, Deputy Centre Director for Public Health England South West said: “We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss their early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. Stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives.

“Through this latest campaign we hope as many people as possible know how to act FAST and help reduce the devastating impact a stroke can have.”