Ray progresses from patient to volunteer.

Ray Canning from Whitehaven has received a prestigious British Citizen Award for his volunteering with the Speech after Stroke scheme

Ray suffered a stroke at age 46. He was forced to give up his job as a pipe fitter; has now gone on to become a volunteer in the group he attended as a patient.

Ray said: “I’m very happy to be receiving the award but I don’t really like a lot of fuss and I don’t do what I do for any recognition. I volunteer at the stroke club as my way of giving something back because it was a fantastic support to me in the early stages after I had my stroke.I was a healthy 46-year-old until it happened and my life changed overnight – and the lives of my family. I’m still not fully recovered. My family and friends have been a great support but sometimes you just feel as though you are on your own and you need something like the stroke club to help you through it. I’m happy to volunteer there and talk to people to help them - and I get something out of it too.”

Ray was nominated for a BCA by Speech after Stroke Scheme volunteer coordinator, Alison Tams, who said: “Ray stands out as award winning; as not only has he overcome his own health issues but he has turned an extremely traumatic life event around and now is using his own experience to positively help others who are in similar situations. He has volunteered at the group for the past two-and-a-half years and attends several group sessions. During that time, he has been keen to attend courses to help in in his voluntary role. Stroke happens, for the most part, without warning and can have devastating effects so Ray is meeting people at one of the worst and most frightening times of their lives. It takes a very special kind of person to be able to revisit their own difficulties in order to help others and Ray does this willingly with an honestly and empathy that is humbling to see.”

Ray was one of 30 medallists honoured at a prestigious ceremony on July 6, at the Palace of Westminster. The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.

All BCA recipients have positively impact society undertaking various activities in support of a number of causes. They all received a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are invited to use the initials BCA after their name.