By Nigel Slater 15/06 Updated: 15/06 11:01
AN EVESHAM man who has struggled to get his words out almost all his life has said going on a coaching programme has turned his world around and given him the chance to help others.
For years Stuart Dow from Greenhill said he was scared to admit his stammering difficulties to his friends and other people and always tried to hide it within himself to avoid people laughing at him.
The 26-year-old got so fearful about speaking to people that it even got to a stage when he called himself as 'Joe' so he would not go through the embarrassment of getting stuck saying his real name to people.
"At school, people would be aware of my problem but I would always try to hide it and pretend I was a person who didn't have a problem with my speech," Stuart told the Observer.
"As a child I would avoid a lot of situations and that was the biggest frustration for me. When you avoid situations in life because you think your speech is not going to hold that can be the biggest frustration of all.
"Growing up was sometimes very difficult and it was so draining having to think about all of these things every time I went to speak just to avoid being perceived as someone who couldn't speak."
In 2006 Stuart decided enough was enough and enrolled onto the McGuire Programme which runs classes all over the UK and gives specialist coaching to help improve people's speech skills.
While on the programme, Stuart had to drill in different speaking techniques, perform different tasks and was given regular support by a personal coach and through former pop star Gareth Gates who was well known for his stuttering problems during his time on TV show Pop Idol.
Despite having ups and downs, Stuart's confidence grew and as well as becoming more fluent he developed a new way of speaking which gave him more control.
"The McGuire Programme has changed my life completely," he added. "I was getting very down about life and not putting the real me across to others. But now I'm much more happier and don't get as frustrated as I once did.
"If it hadn't been for McGuire I'm sure I wouldn't have made it through university and would have been doing a job where I would not need to speak to people."
Now Stuart is training to become a primary coach for the McGuire Programme and is helping others who are going through the same difficult experiences which Stuart himself went through.
"I'm enormously proud to be helping others and I get so much out of it. There's one lad who I'm coaching and he's going through all the same frustrations and emotions as I did and it feels great that I can help him in some way.
"It's vital for people to know that there is help out there and and you don't have to keep hiding it. I managed not to let my problems overtake my life by working hard and getting the support. But you need to put the hard work in because if you do it it can change your life."
For more information about the McGuire Programme visit www.mcguireprogramme.com/.
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