Les and Linda Readfearn, of Burnley, who have received vital support from the Lancashire Carers Service

Family hit by devastating stroke helped by Lancashire Carers Service

It was just an ordinary Friday night like any other when the Readfearn family's lives changed forever.

Manufacturing manager Les Readfearn, 68, was relaxing at home in Burnley and his wife Linda, 67,  was chatting on the phone to a friend nine years ago.

Les said:

"Life was good, things were ticking along nicely. I had a well-paid job as a manufacturing manager which involved travelling to Malaysia to set up a production line. I was about to travel out there again."

But all of a sudden, he heard shouts and words that would change their lives irrevocably – "Mum's having a stroke."

The dad of three and grandad of four said:

"It came as a complete shock to us, it was just a normal Friday night, she was on the phone to a friend and within minutes my daughter shouted to me, "Mum’s having a stroke."

Emergency services were called, and a six-month stint in hospital followed. Linda was lucky to survive. But when she did return home, says Les, it was clear life would never be the same again, as overnight, Les became her full-time carer and had to give up work.

However, a glimmer of hope was offered when Les discovered the Lancashire Carers Service. After registering and undergoing a carers' assessment, Les found a whole range of vital support available to the couple.

Les added:

"We plan our days around Linda, as due to her medication she sleeps around 14 hours a day, so we do everything between the hours of 12pm – 7pm."

"We go out every day and make the most of the time we have. Our relationship has changed and evolved into something different. To some degree, you’re trying to be a husband and a carer and that’s sometimes difficult. It affects everything.

"I feel I manage that quite well, but for some people, I think it must just totally change the way they interact with their loved ones."

Vital help available to the couple includes support with emergency planning in case Les is unable to care for Linda, volunteering opportunities, and various social activities.

Les says the Lancashire Carers Service  has been a huge help in supporting the couple deal with some of the uncertainties and daily challenges they faced.

Les added:

"Being a part of the Lancashire Carers Service has helped take away some of the ‘what ifs’ and replaced it with some reassurance if an emergency did occur. I get a carers' budget and find this payment once a year fantastic as I use it for the football.

"I also now volunteer for the Lancashire Carers Service and have been doing this for the past 3-4 years. This has been extremely rewarding and given me a break from my caring role for 4 hours a week."

The Lancashire Carers Service is shining a light on all those caring for a loved one during Carers' Week 2024, which takes place from June 10 until June 16.

Commissioned by Lancashire County Council, the Lancashire Carers Service provides information, advice and guidance to carers as well as social activities such as coffee and chat events, and assists with emergency planning and also runs a help and talk chat line which is run by carers.

It also supported 21,630 carers across Lancashire during the last financial year 2023/2024.

To find out about the Lancashire Carers Service, such as upcoming events, support and practical help sessions, carers will need to register with The Lancashire Carers Service and contact:

Meanwhile, the Lancashire Carers Advocacy Support provider gives free advocacy support for specific issues to carers, by:

  • Helping prepare and support in meetings, both face-to-face and remotely.
  • Providing information and sharing knowledge around health and social care processes.
  • Advising carers how to access other beneficial services.
  • Listening to what is important to carers.
  • Promoting independence and giving carers the confidence to get the help and support they need.
  • Informing carers of their rights and the best way to voice them.

For further information and support on the Lancashire Carers Advocacy Support, contact 0300 012 0231 or lancashireteam@carerscount.org.uk.