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Stammering expert rewarded in New Year Honours list

Wednesday 2nd January 2019
A teacher who helps pupils who have stammers like himself has been rewarded in the New Year Honours.
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An expert on stammering has received an unexpected reward for his work in promoting awareness of the condition and the treatments available for it - the British Empire Medal.

Adam Black, who teaches children in Glasgow, was one of many unsung heroes around the UK who have received honours alongside high profile names such as sportsmen Geraint Thomas and Sir Alastair Cook, politician Sir John Redwood and author Philip Pullman. 

Mr Black told Radio 1 Newsbeat he had received a letter from the Cabinet Office and wondered initially if there had been a problem with his tax returns.

"When I opened it up and read the news I was blown away by it," he remarked.

The teacher has a speed impediment of his own and his message has been that people should not be embarrassed and hide away because of it. Instead, he argues, it should be acknowledged as part of who they are, while they seek to manage it. 

He explained: "I meet as many children as I can and get them to embrace their quirks.

"I've found that by embracing my stutter it made me who I am and helped me be the person I want to be."

Mr Black said that he never expected to gain recognition of this kind for his work, but expressed the hope that his honour will be an inspiration to people who are active in the field and "make others stand up and take notice of the work they do".

The reduction of stigma around vocal impediments may be a key factor in getting people who do have a problem to seek help from a speech therapist.

Inspirational teachers have helped a number of people deal with speech problems during their school days, such as actress Emily Blunt.

In an interview with American news channel CBS last month, she revealed how she was bullied at school over her stutter, but was taught by a teacher to use a "different voice" to enunciate words. She noted this may be one of the reasons many actors have speech impediments. 

Written by Martin Lambert

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