In 2015 when I was 58 years of age I joined the McGuire programme. I was driving the long journey to the Galway course when I stopped several times and questioned what I was doing. Why do I need this at my age? I almost turned back. That was nearly the biggest mistake of my life.
The programme was intensive and after completing it I was elated. I felt a sense of freedom and hope for the future. That was only the beginning, as the programme has a fantastic support element to it with fortnightly support meetings, refresher days and 3 courses per year.
Prior to completing the course I avoided speaking by sitting at the back of a room or turning up late so I didn't have to introduce myself so I wouldn't suffer the embarrassment of being judged as a person with a stammer.
I awoke every morning and my first thought was anticipating the speaking situations in front of me and the anxiety started immediately. The fear and panic of the situation may have started several days earlier and that was not a good way to live but now I look forward to speaking, which is an amazing feeling.
The fear has gone as I now have a technique which enables me to eloquently say what I want to. Since the start of the programme I have worked with fantastic coaches and I can't thank them enough for their time, effort and knowledge in progressing my speech.
My stammer used to control my life in every aspect but now I can control it. I wish I had started the McGuire programme 20 years earlier but I look forward to a future full of hope without fear.