Unable to walk or use his left side, Garry Hamnett's stroke left him with difficult challenges to face.

While at a friend's house for dinner, Hamnett's face started to droop and his arm became limp.

Luckily his friend knew the signs of a stroke and immediately called for an ambulance. Hamnett was taken to Tauranga Hospital where he received urgent care.

When Hamnett came around he found himself in the acute stroke ward after being unconscious for five days.

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It was during this time that he was introduced to Jessica, a Stroke Foundation Community Stroke Advisor (CSA).

"That initial contact was fantastic. You feel lost when you first find out that you've had a stroke and worry about how you're going to be able to cope. Jessica shared lots of information about how to manage life after a stroke," Hamnett said.

He said she not only helped him, but also his family through the process, and helped him gain back his confidence.

Hamnett completely lost the use of his left side which meant that he was confined to a wheelchair for a number of weeks, a challenge for the man who would run 5km every day.

"Finding out I would have to use a wheelchair was devastating," he recalled.

"A lot of people who have a stroke fall into a downward spiral of negativity and at the start, I did too."

But with Jessica's help, he was able to regain lost confidence.

"I started to remind myself how lucky I was that I had made it through my stroke and started to think more positively.

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"Jessica was incredibly supportive and offered me comfort when I was feeling lonely. Some people don't have family support, which is why the CSA service is so important."

With help around him and the confidence and determination to recover, Hamnett told hospital staff that he would walk out of Tauranga Hospital.

He worked closely with his physio team and Jessica, who gave him the encouragement to keep going and to get stronger.

Sure enough, in May last year, he did.

"My friend said she'd film me walking out of hospital, but she forgot to press the record button, so I actually had to do it twice," he said.

Hamnett then set an ambitious goal to walk to the top of Mauao (The Mount) to celebrate being able to walk again.

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A year after his stroke, he walked to the top of the Mount and now aims to walk 10km every day.

Hamnett has even been keeping up his 10kms each day during all the Covid-19 Alert Levels.

With his block around 2.5kms long, he has been determinedly making the walk four times a day.

Since his stroke, he has learned a lot through Stroke Foundation's CSA service about simple changes he could make to his lifestyle to better manage his health.

"My stroke really was a wake-up call for me. I never expected to find myself in that situation."

The Stroke Foundation is the only national charity in New Zealand focused on the prevention of and recovery from stroke.

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Stroke is the leading cause of serious adult disability with over 9,000 New Zealanders experiencing a stroke each year, and over 64,000 stroke survivors currently living with the effects of stroke.

The annual number of stroke survivors expected to increase by 40 per cent in the next decade.

The charity have been ensuring survivors and their families are supported during all the Alert Levels, and have continued to raise awareness.

Community Stroke Advisors and Return to Work Advisors have kept in touch over the phone and video calls with clients to throughout the Alert Levels.

Home visits to resume may resume providing it is safe to do so at Level 2.

TECT funding was sought by the Stroke Foundation to support the delivery of the free, front-line Community Stroke Advisor services in the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty regions.

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TECT's provided a $25,000 grant which will go towards operational and salary costs associated with the CSA services, costing almost $190,000.

Stroke Foundation Mainland general manager Cee Kay said they were appreciative of the funding which would help significantly.

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