Hairdresser whose stammer was so bad she couldn't say her own name releases a moving music video after combatting her speech impediment - and even auditioned for X Factor

Jessie Stride, 20, was bullied and couldn't say her own name because of stutter Shut herself away in her bedroom from the age of eight Jessie, from Newport, near Hull, would write songs based on her experiences Overcame speech impediment after enrolling on a course in 2014 Auditioned for X Factor last year and got through two rounds of auditions

McGuire Programme Beyond Stuttering Beyond Stammering

Jessie, who finally overcame her stammer in 2014, now wants to release her song, with the working title 'Control', which describes her problem


A hairdresser, who auditioned for the X Factor, has released a moving video showcasing a song she wrote about the crippling stammer she battled for most of her life.

When Jessie Stride, 20, was bullied and couldn't even say her own name because of her pronounced stutter, the only outlet for her feelings was music.

Shutting herself away in her bedroom from the age of eight, Jessie, from Newport, near Hull, would write songs based on a life where even simple conversations were a struggle.

Like former Pop Idol star, Gareth Gates, 32, however, she could sing without a single stumble.

Jessie, who finally overcame her stammer in 2014 using the speech therapy course, the McGuire Programme, now wants to release her song, with the working title 'Control', which describes her problem.

The lyrics include: 'I wanna tell you what I'm thinking, but it's something I don't choose.

'Cause you don't know what it feels like, to have a voice that you can't use.'

Jessie said her mother, teacher Zel Stride, 48, first noticed her speech difficulties when she was four-years-old.

'I would struggle to speak… my mouth would open, but words would struggle to come out,' she recalled.

'Mum wasn't sure if I was just learning how to speak, or if it was something more serious.

'But as I got older, I'd try and nod along to conversations, saying things like "uh huh," so I didn't have to reply.'

Jessie cruised through primary school without her speech effecting her learning. When she reached high school, though, playground bullies seized on her difference and tormented her.

'My friends all turned against me and I had no one to talk to about what was happening to me,' she said.

'Aged 12, I remember a group of 20 people surrounded me and were teasing me about my voice.

'I was trying to shout, "help", but couldn't get the words out. It got so bad, to the point that I didn't want to go to school because I couldn't stand up for myself.'

The bullying reached fever pitch when Jessie was 13, resulting in her mum and dad, retired army band saxophonist, Charlie Stride, 59, insisting that she changed schools. 

At her next school, she found new friends who helped camouflage her speech problems by answering for her in class or manipulating situations so she didn't have to speak.

'Some days I would feel OK to speak, but then other times I couldn't even string two words together,' Jessie recalled.

'When it came to taking the register, other people would say "yes" for me. The worst part was struggling to even say my own name.

'That was the hardest part, just saying "Jessie" was such a challenge.'

Despite only child Jessie seeing a speech therapist from the age of eight to 14, her stammer still plagued her.

Alone in her bedroom, though, she discovered she could sing beautifully and without any impediment.

'I started singing and writing songs, from the age of eight. I could never understand why, but when I sang I wouldn't stutter,' she said.

'My grandfather, George Bleasby, now 95, taught me to play the piano and I'd write songs about what was happening to me, or about how I was feeling . It wasn't always about stammering, but just a way to express my feelings.

'My mum would come upstairs to my room and listen to me sing. Sometimes, when I couldn't tell her about my day, I would sing it.

'It was a real release. I felt like I was writing out my emotions, letting it all out. But it was still frustrating. My stammer was so bad, I couldn't even ring a friend for a chat.'

Despite expressing how she felt through music, life was still frustrating for Jessie.

Even her dream to become a hairdresser hung in the balance, as she knew that speaking to clients would be a battle.

'It was so frustrating that I couldn't talk, but I could sing,' she said.

'Whenever I stammered, I felt like a piece of me would leave me, break away.

'But when I sang, I felt really in control and free. Like I was expressing myself exactly how I wanted to!'

When Jessie met boyfriend graphic designer, Adam Kerr, 21, at college, she tried to hide her stammer.

'He didn't mention my speech until two months into our relationship. It was hard communicating with him though. I'd text him a lot so I didn't have to ask him things that I knew would make my speech worse.'

After a year of training as a hairdresser at college, struggling to even ask customers what look they wanted, Jessie's mum contacted the McGuire Programme, a course which helped Gareth Gates overcome his stammer.

In February 2014, Jessie enrolled on the five day course in Cardiff, Wales and, through, developing breathing techniques, practicing public speaking and looking at psychological factors, she had a breakthrough.

Jessie said: 'I'd never been around so many people who stammered. I felt more normal and my confidence really grew.

'I learnt how to speak confidently and eloquently, and not to be afraid, it was an amazing feeling.'

Since completing the McGuire Programme, feeling more confident, Jessie shared her love of singing with Adam.

'He's been so supportive and gives me the confidence boost I need,' she added.

Jessie has been on top-up programmes once every four months since February 2014 and has become a trainer, helping other people with speech problems.

'When my speech started to come back I thought, 'I'm going to turn this around and make a positive out of what's happened'.

'So I wrote this song called 'Control' and even auditioned for the X –Factor in May 2016.

'It's amazing having a voice that I can use for work in the hair salon and to help other people know they are not alone and can get over their stammer too.'