Gwent teen overcoming stammer using The McGuire Programme method

Sixteen Year old Lloyd Cottrell is trying to overcome his stammer using The McGuire Programme as seen in Stammer School.

FOR Lloyd Cottrell, an interview with the South Wales Argus is a challenge that takes him out of his comfort zone as he seeks to overcome his stammer.

The 16-year-old, who is starting sixth-form studies at Bassaleg School in Newport, has for the past three years undergone the same intensive therapy known as the McGuire Programme as embarked upon by Educating Yorkshire star Musharaf Asghar in the Channel Four series Stammer School.

Although Lloyd has made impressive progress since attending his first McGuire Programme course in 2011, he says he has some way to go.

He said: “I am a lot more eloquent than before. My friends would say I was dreadful then. I could probably say only two words together.

“There is still much more room for improvement though. At the first McGuire Programme course, new students make a first-day video that shows how they are before the course begins.

“I know I have come a long way from there  but it is a journey of improvement.

“I am not sure why I stammer but it started when I was five or six and it was holding me back in school.

“With my GCSEs there were oral exams, for instance in French and Welsh, and I was dreadful at the start. But in one of them I got full marks, so that shows how far I have come.”

Lloyd, who lives between Bassaleg and Michaelston-y-Fedw, is now studying maths, chemistry and music at school, and plays the clarinet, saxophone and piano.

Pharmacy is among the areas of study he is considering after his A-levels. Teaching is another, but he says he must make more progress for that.

The McGuire Programme focuses on breathing techniques as a way of teaching a different way to speak. Lloyd has been on eight courses, returning to top-up his technique.

Lloyd, who hopes to become a coach on the programme, said: “It is not a cure for a stammer, there is no cure, but it can make such a difference to people.

“One of the things our coaches tell us is to push ourselves out of our comfort zones as far as speaking is concerned.

“I have joined (public-speaking organisation) Toastmasters, which is a different situation for me, and speaking to the Argus for a story is another way of pushing myself.

“Before the programme I was bullied quite a lot. But I am more confident now. The people I am around at school are older, and I have made more friends.

“I have also talked to all of my teachers to explain about my stammer and how they can help me, and I told my year group about the McGuire Programme and the course  they know how big a challenge it is for me.”

Lloyd’s mum Sue Cottrell, an education consultant, has written a book called Can I Tell You About Stammering? inspired by her son’s experiences.

She said: “Five or six per cent of children have a stammer. I am a teacher and felt strongly that I did not know enough about it. I am hoping to get a copy (of the book) into all schools.”

by Andy Rutherford