Stockton man travels to Cape Town

Matthew Richardson travels to Cape Town to help people find their voice.

Matthew Richardson on Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Nov 30, 2014 By Lucy Richardson - The Northern Echo: An accountant has flown more than eight thousand miles around the world to teach strangers how to say their names. Until he was 22, Matthew Richardson from Stockton struggled to speak, but now he instructs a speech therapy course, called the McGuire Programme, around the world.

He recently travelled to Cape Town, South Africa, where he had just four days to help a group of 11 stutters go from struggling to make conversation to making public speeches in a shopping centre. He said: “There I met David Tay, 22, a technology student from Ghana who spent every day desperately trying to hide the fact he stuttered and June du Toit from Johannesburg who aged 75, hadn't been able to express herself for more than half a century. “I suffered from a severe stutter so I knew exactly the frustration and anguish they were going through, fortunately I had stumbled across the McGuire Programme and my own life changed forever,” he explained.

The programme is run by people who used to stammer who teach a series of breathing and speaking techniques designed to overcome their fears. The day before flying to Cape Town he was asked to give a talk about his trip to work colleagues at Armstrong Watson accountants in Northallerton. “It was only when I showed them an old video of me struggling on every word that they realised what I had been through, some were shocked but all were supportive,” Mr Richardson,41, added. “Since my first course I have made two best man speeches and taken an assembly at a local secondary school. “However, it is the little things like being able to read bedtime stories to my daughter, Maisy, that gives me the greatest pleasure.”