"You can have a life after stroke..."

Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee recognised the achievements of Scottish Portrait Awards Young Photographer 2019 winner, Brenna Collie before discussion got underway at the meeting on Thursday (30 January).

Brenna, who is currently in S6 at Mintlaw Academy, was invited to share her journey with elected members. At just 14 Brenna suffered a stroke and had to learn to walk again as well as coming to terms with her “new normal”.

She decided to document her recovery in her Higher Photography portfolio through 12 striking images which she also then included in her presentation for councillors. Her mum encouraged her to enter one of the images into the Scottish Portrait Awards and ‘Trapped’ – an image captured to convey the fear she felt at the time of her initial diagnosis – was recognised towards the end of last year as the winning entry.  

Brenna explained: “Other than learning how to walk, the aftermath of my stroke affected me in many ways, and still does to this day. In making my portfolio I wanted to be completely honest, and it not only shows my physical recovery, but also my emotional recovery, and the things that helped me through it. I wanted to show that you can have a life after stroke, regardless of how old you are.

“I’m also really keen to raise awareness of childhood stroke, in whatever way I can, turning my experience into a positive experience by helping others. By doing this I hope to make a difference in making people aware that it can happen and letting those in my situation know they are not so alone.”

Education and Children’s Services Committee Chair, Cllr Gillian Owen commented: “We are incredibly proud of Brenna’s achievements, the courage she has shown throughout what must have been an incredibly difficult time for a young person in particular to go through, and the commitment she continues to demonstrate to such an important cause by sharing her story with us. Thank you so much.”

Vice Chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce added: “Brenna – we are truly in awe of you. Well done on this fantastic achievement. I would also like to highlight the importance of parents/carers and schools working together to support young people, regardless of what life throws at them. I’m sure Brenna would join me in giving thanks to the team at Mintlaw Academy and her family and wider support network for all the help they have given her throughout this journey.”

You can view the presentation Brenna shared with councillors about her journey at: https://sway.office.com/VcuLATubpbGr8p2X?ref=Link