'Saxy lady' and unsung heroes praised in Stroke Awards

'Unsung heroes' named in 2019 Stroke Foundation awards


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TAKE NOTE: Lynette Gordon-Smith, aka "Saxy Lady", proved health professionals wrong by playing her saxophone after stroke.

TAKE NOTE: Lynette Gordon-Smith, aka "Saxy Lady", proved health professionals wrong by playing her saxophone after stroke.

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A sax-playing senior and a personal trainer among top stroke award winners.

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A SAXOPHONE player, a personal trainer who raised more than $50,000 and a prodigous professor have all been named as unsung heros for their work to help improve the lives of people affected by stroke.

The Stroke Foundation's 2019 Stroke Awards, presented on Tuesday, celebrated Australians who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of stroke survivors and their families.

The winners were chosen from almost 70 nominations in six categories: Creative, Fundraiser of the Year, Courage, Volunteer of the Year, President's Achievement and Improving Life after Stroke.

Queensland's "Saxy Lady" Lynette Gordon-Smith, from Allora, won the Creative Award for proving health professionals wrong, by playing her saxophone after stroke.

Mrs Gordon Smith was told she may never be able to play her saxophone again after she suffered a stroke in 2017.

Stroke Foundation's Sharon McGowan at the 2018 Stroke Awards.

Stroke Foundation's Sharon McGowan at the 2018 Stroke Awards.

But a year later, and with plenty of determination, the 68-year-old Allora musician was back doing what she loves best -performing and selling her CDs to raise money for the Stroke Foundation.

"I'm honoured to be the 2019 Creative Award recipient. After my stroke, I had to learn to swallow, walk, talk and use my hand again. It's been a tough journey, but I was committed to beating the odds," Mrs Gordon-Smith said.

"I am truly grateful to the occupational therapists and the allied health team at Warwick Hospital for their support in my rehabilitation.

"I've played the saxophone since I was 13 years old and I couldn't imagine my life without music. I love the joy music brings to others when I perform.

"I am also passionate about raising awareness of stroke and encouraging other stroke survivors to never give up."

Tracy and Stephen Ward from Denman in NSW took home the Courage Award, given to survivors and carers who have shown indomitable courage and hope.

The couple were praised for their tenacity in recovery from stroke and their ongoing advocacy efforts, including playing a key role in securing government funding for stroke research and providing a voice for people affected by stroke in regional Australia.

Fundraiser of the Year Award went to personal trainer Jo Cordell Cooper from Geilston Bay, in Tasmania.

Ms Cordell Cooper set up Tasmanian Iconic Walks - a fundraising trek through the Tasman National Park which has raised more than $50,000 in two years.

Victoria's Kevin English from Albert Park was named Volunteer of the Year for his ongoing work with Stroke Foundation, as a member of the Consumer Council and as a StrokeSafe Ambassador.

Stephanie Ho from Darlinghurst, NSW, was awarded for her work giving back to the community after her own stroke, aged 22, through participation in stroke and rehabilitation boards, public speaking and supporting other young stroke survivors.

She took home the Improving Life after Stroke Award.

President's Achievement Award went to Professor Dominique Cadilhac, from Victoria for her extensive contributions to stroke research and public health policy.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan congratulated the winners for their remarkable achievements.

"I could not be more impressed with these outstanding individuals who have demonstrated passion and commitment to raise awareness of stroke and reduce its burden in our community," Ms McGowan said.

"The Stroke Foundation strives to prevent stroke, save lives and enhance recovery. The selfless actions of the Stroke Awards nominees, finalists and winners plays an important role in that mission."

For more information about the 2019 Stroke Awards visit www.strokefoundation.org.au

Read more: My stroke story: Brian Tress recounts journey from doctor to patient

Read more: Vic stem cell trial to aid stroke patients

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