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Stroke survivor Chris King from Sandwich helped guide Emmerdale's Marlon with new storyline


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This is the stroke survivor whose experiences have helped TV's Marlon Dingle play his latest story line.

As a fellow chef who understands the impact of losing the use of a limb, Chris King from Sandwich was invited to speak to actor Mark Charnock.

Chris King showing stroke survivors how to “Cook with Chris” Picture: Chequers Kitchen
Chris King showing stroke survivors how to “Cook with Chris” Picture: Chequers Kitchen

The 55-year-old shared the story of his own stroke which happened in 2016 in a conversation with the actor, and had to sign a secrecy agreement not to divulge the plot until the story broke.

Chris’s stroke left him unable to use his left arm and with only limited use of his left leg, meaning he is unable to work.

He told the soap star about his mental battle he endured afterwards, which he found far tougher than the physical impact.

But he also showed there can be light at the end of the tunnel, when new opportunities arise.

Chris said: “It’s great that Emmerdale is doing this storyline.

Marlon reacts with horror when he sees his face in the mirror when he’s having a stroke Picture: ITV
Marlon reacts with horror when he sees his face in the mirror when he’s having a stroke Picture: ITV

"People see the FAST advert on TV but that’s just recognising signs.

"People don’t see the full impact of stroke can have and that’s why it’s important to portray it on TV.

"Marlon has a daughter and it’s really important for Emmerdale viewers to understand the impact on those nearest and dearest."

Millions of viewers tuned in to Emmerdale last night as the much-loved soap veteran collapsed after a stroke.

The heart-breaking storyline will run for months as Marlon and his new fiancee, Rhona, come to terms with his illness.

Marlon collapsed on the floor after his stroke Picture: ITV
Marlon collapsed on the floor after his stroke Picture: ITV

Actor Mark said the bravery of Chris and another survivor he spoke to, Nick Hounsfield from Bristol, has given him a far better understanding of the devastation inflicted on a stroke survivor and their family.

He said: “I have learnt so much and am shocked it affects so many.

“I found filming this storyline very emotive and the bravery of the survivors in dealing with their strokes is incredible. I hope we can do this story justice.”

Chris’s stroke in May 2016 happened when part of a furred-up artery in his neck broke away and the clot blocked the blood supply to his brain.

He believes that his long working hours - sometimes 96 hours a week - stress and social pressures of being chef were a contributing factor.

Chris King who had a stroke in 2016 now uses a mobility scooter
Chris King who had a stroke in 2016 now uses a mobility scooter

He said: “I told Mark a lot about how it has affected me mentally and how in the blink of an eye, the simplest of things like tying shoelaces, putting on socks and a pair of trousers become real life challenges.

“What I realised quite quickly was I needed to listen and believe in the occupational therapist to reteach me what I needed to know.

“So the first main challenge became how to get dressed with only the use of one hand.

"I was lucky my dominant side survived the stroke.

“It was something I just didn't believe would be a challenge. Little did I know. So it was off to buy new socks with elasticated tops so I could stretch them with one hand.

An anxious Marlon in the moments leading up to his stroke Picture: ITV
An anxious Marlon in the moments leading up to his stroke Picture: ITV

“New t-shirts, elasticated trousers and tracks, velcro trainers, no laces.

"Then it became about listening and learning and believing I could do this.

"Something I also had to learn was how to overcome mental fatigue and frustration, which was probably harder than all the rest.”

Unable to work, Chris began volunteering at the Chequers Kitchen Cookery School, a social enterprise in Deal which supports its social mission by also offering high quality recreational cookery classes, team building and dining events for the general public.

He shares his skills with other stroke survivors, showing them how to cook delicious fresh meals.

"I told Mark (who plays Marlon) a lot about how it has affected me mentally..."

He has adapted his recipes to suit abilities, such as less chopping.

During the pandemic his classes moved online, initially just for Stroke survivors in the south of England, hosted by the Stroke Association.

With funding from the Port of Dover Community Fund via the Kent Community Foundation, people across the country can now ‘Cook with Chris’ on Zoom.

He said: “I’d started to volunteer at the Chequers and Pieter, the head chef, invited me to teach cookery as an activity for the Deal and District Stroke Group.

“Getting back in the kitchen gave me a purpose and a chance to help others. It gave me something to look forward to.

"It is nice to put my experience to good use and help people who are struggling with anxiety or confidence."

To join the sessions on the third Wednesday of every month, email Lynn Vincent lynn.vincent@stroke.org.uk

For more information or support click here, or call the helpline on 0303 3033100.

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