Bundaberg stroke ambassador a finalist in national awards

Stroke Foundation Award nominee Denise McGaw.
Stroke Foundation award nominee Denise McGaw.

It’s a life-changing condition that can have slow-moving symptoms but it took one Bundaberg couple quickly by surprise.

Max McGaw experienced two strokes in as many years and it was something that his wife Denise said changed both their lives forever.

 “Max had his first stroke in 2004 and the second in 2006,” she said.

“They came with very little warning. There were hardly any obvious symptoms or signs at all. Just his toe dragging slightly on the carpet.”

The Bundaberg couple said having a stroke did not just directly affect the survivor, it also had major effects on surrounding family.

Denise said her husband could not do the normal things that he once enjoyed and needed round-the-clock care.

“It is debilitating and has great emotional and physical affects,” she said.

Denise retired early and became her husband’s full-time career in 2006 and said she had since been tirelessly working to help get information out about stroke.

“When I first decided to really do something about it, there was very little information available,” she said.

“I decided to try to get together some people for a few information nights in Bundaberg and they really took off, doctors and nurses even turned up to learn more.”

In 2010, Denise became secretary of the Bundaberg Stroke Support Group and in 2015 she was named Stroke Safe Ambassador.

She still hosts talks in the community about stroke awareness.

Finalist in Stroke Foundation Awards

A few weeks ago, Denise’s efforts were highlighted through her Volunteer of the Year finalist position for the Stroke Foundation Awards.

The Volunteer of the Year Award was created to recognise those outstanding volunteers whose dedicated service has made a significant difference.

“I kept the news to myself for about a week, I didn’t even tell my family,” the humble Denise said.

“I am proud but this isn’t why I do it. As long as I can help people and spread awareness, that’s the aim I wish to achieve.”

Denise is hoping to attend the awards ceremony next month in Melbourne where the winners will be announced.

To find out more about Stroke Foundation or symptoms of stroke click here.