Scarborough man to feature in BBC documentary

Calvin Atkinson.
Calvin Atkinson.

A Scarbrough man who suffers from a stammer will feature in an episode of BBC documentary series 'One Day That Changed My Life'.

A forthcoming episode of the BBC1 programme will feature Calvin Atkinson, 27, as he seeks to reassert control over his speech.

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The programme is part of a documentary series which relates stories of individuals who go through momentous experiences in their lives.

Earlier this year, Mr Atkinson, a customer and trading manager for Sainsbury’s at their main Scarborough store in Falsgrave, embarked on a specialist therapy course in London.

Whilst attending The McGuire Programme in the capital in February, a film crew from London-based Flicker Productions working on behalf of the BBC, followed his story closely over the period of a week.

The intensive four-day course employs the use of diaphragmatic breathing, assertive self-acceptance as a stammerer, non-avoidance methods, speech delivery techniques combined with sports psychology.

For many years Mr Atkinson endured the obstacles of coping with his stammer which initially appeared briefly at the age of five before resurfacing again as a young teenager when giving class presentations.

Originally from Somerset, Mr Atkinson moved to the Scarborough area last year to be near his family.

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He stated: “I first heard about The McGuire programme approximately 10 years ago after watching a TV documentary. I was absolutely astonished at how in just four days, people could take back control of their speech.

"Throughout life my own impediment has been a tremendous hindrance to my overall confidence and has certainly led to avoiding difficult social situations, asking a girl on a date, job interviews... even just leaving the house on some days would feel almost impossible when my speech was at its worst.

"The added pressure of being a retail manager, and daily frustrations of becoming stuck on certain words (despite knowing precisely what I wanted to say) but also trying to appear calm and assertive, could be soul-destroying at times.”

He added: "After finally taking the first step and booking my place at The McGuire programme in London, I certainly did not expect to be approached for a BBC documentary to follow my journey.

"Despite ‘being in the spotlight’ which has always been my greatest fear, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to raise awareness for the condition and face my own insecurities head-on.

"My personal life-changing moment was standing up on a soap box in Hyde Park and delivering a speech to a large crowd, whilst also being filmed by two television cameras. I will never forget that day.

"I cannot express how incredible it feels, after leaving the course, to now speak with such new-found eloquence and confidence. I think it is important to clarify, my stammer will never disappear entirely, there is no current cure available.

"However, I have now learnt a completely new way of speaking... and more importantly, I can finally accept it makes me who I am as a person.”

Filmed in both Scarborough and London, the programme is broadcast on BBC1 on Tuesday June 25 at 11am, repeated on BBC2 on Wednesday June 26 at 7.15am and will also be available for a month on BBC iPlayer.