University Centre Hartpury lecturer Rich Whincup is working with singer-songwriter Gareth Gates to support children with stammers and their families.
Rich Whincup, a BA (Hons) Sports Business Management lecturer at Hartpury, has been brought in as one of the Gareth Gates Stammer School’s team of specialist speech and language therapists.
This weekend, the school will hold its first conference in Gareth’s home town of Bradford to educate both children and their parents on how to deal with living with a stammer.
Like Gareth, Rich has overcome his own personal battles with the often debilitating condition to carve out a successful career.
Four years ago, he appeared on the Channel 4 documentary ‘Stammer School: Musharaf Finds his Voice’, on which he helped five students learn to control their speech using the same techniques that changed his life.
In great demand to share his experiences with organisations, businesses and schools across the UK, Rich is determined to continue making a difference through his involvement with Gareth Gates Stammer School
Rich, said: “We believe educating parents is key to helping and supporting their child through what can be a turbulent time in their lives.
“We will help the children to improve self-esteem and build their confidence despite having a stammer.
“Self-acceptance is a massive step to help deal with the negative thoughts feelings and emotions of a person who stammers.
“We will be helping them deal with all those possible negative thoughts and feelings as well as the fear of speaking.
“Gareth will hold sessions and talk about his experiences and how he's never let his stammer hold him back or dictate what he does.
“We are not teaching a technique but it’s more about being happy with the skin we are in.”
Gareth didn’t let a stammer prevent him from achieving four number one hit singles, as well as a glittering career on the West End.
“As a child I didn’t know anyone else who stammered. It was a very lonely, isolated place,” he said.
"With the ‘Gareth Gates Stammer School’ I intend to break this isolation and offer these children help and support with this debilitating affliction.
“One in every 100 suffer with some sort of speech impediment. Our goal is to raise awareness of this.
“By starting with children, hopefully we’ll instil the necessary tools and confidence so that they’ll go on and achieve all they want to in life, and not let their speech impediment dictate who they are or what they become.”
The conference will take place at the Dixon’s City Academy, Ripley Street, Bradford, BD5 7RR on 2-3 June.
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Picture: Rich Whincup