The Horniman regularly hosts visits from the Stroke Association, enabling stroke surviviors and their families to meet and explore the collections. Earl Bent has written a little about his visits to the museum and how they have aided in his recovery.
After having a stroke in December 2013, I spent 2 weeks in the Kings College Hospital Stroke Unit, followed by 6 weeks of occupational therapy home visits to help me regain the use of my right side and my speech. I was visited by Annette Carty who explained the various services offered by the Stroke Association. We spoke about furthering my communication skills which lead to me being introduced to Rachel Morrison who is the Communication Support Coordinator for Lewisham.
One of the services which sounded interesting to me was the communication group that meets on the last Thursday of every month at the world famous Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, South London.
With trepidation and great anxiety I attended my first meeting. Within the first fifteen minutes, the group along with Rachel made me realise that my initial feelings were not warranted. Although in my personal life I have great support, it was nice to be surrounded by people that have a greater and personal understanding of the impact a stroke has on your life and many issues faced whilst trying to overcome it.
The first meeting consisted of a slow but steady walk around the Horniman Gardens where we looked at and identified the various groups of plants. My personal favourite was the Mint Chocolate Tree! After the walk, we all returned to a room where a lively discussion was had.
The second meeting I attended was about musical instruments and objects pertaining to communication throughout the ages. This included a visit to Music Gallery which houses a vast array of musical instruments. Some were odd looking, some fantastical and some were outright amazing.
My next meeting with the group was to the superb aquarium at the museum. By now I had found that the partnership between the Stroke Association and the Horniman is of great benefit to Stroke survivors, their families and volunteers. It was because of this that although I did not always feel up to the journey, I pushed myself to attend.
The fourth meeting I attended, the group learnt about the art of communication through gesture and subtle nuances of movement in the body. We were thoroughly entertained by a Lady named Francesca, who is a trained Performing Artist and we looked at various masks and the roles they play in communication in societies. I was paired with Claudette, a fellow stroke survivor, and together we performed a short non-verbal set depicting 3 main gestures: shock, understanding & laughter.
I find myself looking forward to each and every meeting and disappointed when it is over in what seems like no time at all.
Who would have thought that when Frederick Horniman gave the museum to the people of London in 1901 it would become an aid to help in the recovery of stroke survivors.
I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt, that if not for the marriage between the Stroke Association and the Horniman, I would not be able to share this with you!