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September 2021

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‘Weather the Storm’ Opera

The nights are already closing in but the late breakthrough of sunshine meant that the group of Stroke Ambassadors in Reading could meet outside in the garden of the Museum of Early Rural Life to explore together the experience of making the opera ‘Weather the Storm’. That it was an epic, once in a life time opportunity was the shared feeling of the group.  It was an amazing experience to perform in the beautiful grounds of the Getty Estate at Garsington Opera with the support of Garsington Adult Community chorus.  The restrictions of COVID meant that we could not rehearse together and we did not meet until the day of the performance but it was all the more remarkable that the project took place!  Congratulations to everyone!


Throughout the summer we kept on working on the online project we developed with a group of people living with the effects of a stroke and brain injury. This new project, ‘Spirals’, looks at the image of the spiral as a metaphor for recovery.  Does it sometimes appear that we have to walk backwards to travel forwards? Do we keep on climbing upwards? Or is the climb more the like the tendrils of vines and clematis that spiral around fences and poles? Through dance and music and song we explore these themes. The film will be screened later this month.  We would love your feedback and look forward to your thoughts.

The Ambassadors

The work of the Ambassadors is spreading and Accelerate, a charity who work in palliative care to support the needs of those with lymphodoema, have commissioned us to explore whether we can create a network of Ambassadors to advocate for lymphodoema.  The programme begins in January and will be led by Lucinda Jarrett and Louise Klarnett. 

Meanwhile, we are remarkably busy gathering new participants with new Odysseys Programmes. Please see the details below. 

Thames Valley

In High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire we have the opportunity to grow the Thames Valley Company and will be developing a performance that will tour the region. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership with Wycombe Hospital and new partnerships with Wycombe Arts Centre.
A taster session at Wycombe Arts Centre will be taking place on 20th October – please email for more information.

We are also working with New Directions College in Reading and the Social Prescribing Programmes to explore how our relationship to the landscape changed during the pandemic. How many of us found walking through parklands and along the rivers a healing power?


SHAPER, the research programme that explores how we might upscale Brain Odysseys, begins again this autumn in South London, and a new performance programme will be led by Melanie Pappenheim and Louise Klarnett and will culminate next February in a performance at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Our taster session for new participants will be taking place at 2pm at St John’s Church Waterloo on 28th September. See the flyer below for more details!

Your space to share art work and poetry.

Send your work to Jennie for the next newsletter at

Sonia, Reading
Sonia, Reading

Holiday Painting of Dorset Beach – Fiona, Reading

This is a collage 
The photograph of a painting I did just after having a stroke
I was really thin and the pink red section of my face is about The Stroke
The sky is a section of one of my paintings called the Hollybush
Either side of the photograph of my self-portrait is another section of my painting in the painting that I cut
I’m happy with this as a tactic, seven birds in the sky and the remainder of the Holly bush on the right

Lil, London


The Brainwaves group have watched the first rough screening of the ‘Spirals’ film that they have created together, through a series of hybrid in-person and online workshops. They worked with composer Orlando Gough and vocalist Melanie Pappenheim, along with Lucinda Jarrett and Chris Rawlence, to create this film. It will be streamed via an online event – watch this space for details!

Our London ambassador Afsana Elanko is currently being featured in an exhibition. Being South Asian is a new photography exhibition which explores and celebrates South Asian heritage. Showcasing the work of eight contemporary artists, the exhibition will feature a diverse collection of historical and contemporary imagery, poetry, traditional prints and installations.

The exhibition is running from now until Thursday 30th September at Gunnersbury Park Museum, and entry is free.

Afsana will be at the exhibition on Friday 24th September at 2pm to give ambassadors a tour of the exhibition. If you would like to join, you can email for more details. 

A Mouse in a Huge World

Rosetta Life was commissioned by North Bristol NHS Trust to make a performance that enabled a group of people living with the effects of a stroke to understand the underdeveloped area of research into vision loss after stroke. We worked with dancer Eeva Maria Mutka to explore our stories of vision loss. “I have to feel my way around things more.  I rely on my toes and my fingers” were some of the remarkable things that people said that led us to explore movement and dance. “Have you any idea how difficult it is to realise you cant find your way around your own flat? The bruises all over my body!” and “I am a mouse in a huge world” said someone else and gave us the title for our piece.  The film will be screened on Stroke Awareness Day.

Not the Same Poet, But Always an Artist is an exhibition of drawings and photographs by poet, artist and Bristol ambassador Hazel Hammond. It will be taking place at Southmead Hospital, Bristol from now until 18th December, and at Arnolfini, Bristol from 1st to 31st October. This work tells Hazel’s story visually and she hopes it will support other people living with Aphasia and their families, raising awareness of the vital role that arts can play in recovery.

For more information, please visit the website here.

The Reading ambassadors gathered together at the Museum of English Rural Life on 16th September to have a picnic and feedback session for the ‘Weather the Storm’ opera. It was fantastic to see everyone together again, and to enjoy the last rays of summer sunshine! Thanks again to MERL for letting us use their beautiful garden.

SHAPER Taster Session

St John’s Church Waterloo, London

2pm, 28th September

Wycombe Taster Session

Wycombe Arts Centre, High Wycombe

20th October

‘Weather the Storm’ Stream

Friday 29th October