A father of the bride who has battled with a stammer since childhood will be able to speak at his daughter’s wedding after a speech course changed his life.
Ian Crooks, 62, of Prospect Mount Road, Scarborough, was petrified of stuttering his way through his speech at the ceremony on April 25.
But after completing an intensive four-day programme, he is now looking forward to speaking confidently in front of friends and family after six decades of suffering in silence.
He said: “I have had a bad stammer all my life. My daughter Anna is getting married this month in Ireland and there will be 200 guests. I was really dreading it. Every day I was wondering how the heck I was going to cope with it all but now I am relaxed and confident I can do it.
“I had speech therapy in my 30s and 40s but I soon slipped back into the old routine. My stammer hasn’t completely gone now, but I’m more in control of it. It’s pretty amazing - the course has changed my life.”
After deciding enough was enough, Mr Crooks enrolled on The McGuire Programme - an intensive, four-day course in Newcastle.
It’s pretty amazing - the course has changed my life.Ian Crookes
Closeted away and paired with a “recovered” stammerer, Mr Crooks was only allowed to talk to his coach.
He was taught physical techniques such as deep breathing and to practise eye contact to build up self-confidence.
Great emphasis was placed on the psychological aspect of stammering, talking about the fear of speaking and how to overcome it.
Finally he was sent out to speak to 100 strangers, asking directions or the time.
Mr Crooks said: “I did it three weeks ago and it was really intense. I was working on my speech from 7am until 10pm each day. On the final day I had to stand on a soap box in the middle of Newcastle and shout out who I was and what I had been doing. I never imagined I would be able to do anything like that.”
As a result Mr Crooks, who is a chartered tax accountant at Ingham and Co, in West Parade Road, is now also able to use the phone confidently and is no longer afraid to join in conversations.
“I did try and use the phone but I always came off thinking that was hopeless. I didn’t have the confidence but now everything has changed. Everyone in my office is amazed.”
But most importantly for the family man, he can now call and Skype his three children who no longer live in Scarborough.
He said: “It has changed my family’s life as well. I can speak to my two sons and my daughter more easily now. I have never been able to speak to them in the way I wanted to. When I see them now it’s much more of a personal thing. I’m not avoiding conversations, I’m joining in more which is brilliant.
“My wife thinks she has got a new man so she’s really pleased - my whole family is over the moon.”
Mr Crooks is now keen to help other people who have problems with their speech.
“People who have issues with their speech can always contact me for a sympathetic ear and advice and I can also put them in touch with the right people,” he said.
“I will always be a stammerer but I’m now in contol of it and it’s not in control of me.”
Mr Crooks can be contacted by calling (01723) 500209 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org