Leeds double stroke mum turned designer is honoured for her courage

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A MUM left unable to walk or speak after having two strokes has rebuilt her life – and created an acclaimed fashion label.

Gemma McKeating, from Leeds, had her first stroke at 24 after her drink was spiked on a night out.

Then last year she had a second, which meant she couldn’t even wish her son a happy second birthday.

But the 31-year-old has battled back and not only has a 
full-time job but also runs her own clothes firm, which has been featured in fashion bible Vogue.

Her efforts have now been recognised in an award from a national charity.

She said: “After my stroke I feared I’d no longer be able to hold my son or spend precious time with my family.

“It’s been a long road to recovery and I still have weakness in my left side, but I’m proof that there is a life after stroke.

“I was so excited to return to full time work and my fashion business is growing, thanks to the support of my customers and my amazing family.”

Gemma, from Beeston, was left terribly ill after her drink was spiked while on a night out in Leeds and the stroke she suffered as a result left her with epilepsy.

In May last year she had 40 seizures in two days, causing another stroke.

She was taken to Leeds General Infirmary but was unable to walk or talk, while movement on her left side had been badly affected.

“A month after my stroke it was my son Archie’s second birthday and I couldn’t help him open his presents or say happy birthday,” she said. “That was the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced.”

After four months she was able to stand with a walking stick, and therapy helped regain her speech and movement.

She’d started her own fashion label Uncommon Nonsense just three weeks before the stroke after being inspired to create designs suitable for women of all sizes.

As she recovered, her mum Agnes stepped in to fulfil orders and Gemma assisted where she could. Now Uncommon Nonsense has gone from strength-to-strength, and she also works managing student accommodation.

Now Gemma has been recognised with a Life After Stroke Award from the Stroke Association at an event in Leeds.

She said: “You feel for a few moments as though your world has come to an end but everyone has turned it around to open a door.”

Her fashion label is at http://uncommon-nonsense.co.uk or follow @UNonsenseUK on Twitter.

See next Tuesday’s health page for more on the awards.

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