Sue Pole is a busy woman. She spends a great deal of time with an ever growing group of friends; she gives them names, personalities and a whole backstory. But these are friends that Sue has created herself and they have really helped with her recovery from a stroke.
Sue lives in Hogshill Gardens in Crawley and receives a care service from Family Mosaic. Following the stroke and a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in March 2016, she spent the next five months in hospital and then moved in to the scheme in October 2016.
At first it was a difficult transition. Initially Sue couldn’t get out of bed and didn’t think she ever would. This was a real change from her previous profession as a seamstress, which she loved and during which she made intricate wedding gowns and bridesmaid’s dresses.
Now it felt like she would never be able to sew again, especially since she lost the use of her right side. It was a difficult time for Sue and she found it hard to get motivated.
At this point her carer Wendy invited her to the craft group she was running at the scheme. Sue wasn’t sure there was much point but Wendy persisted and eventually Sue went along. Not only was it a great opportunity for Sue to meet people and make new friends, it was also helpful for her therapy to start using her hands again.
Initially Sue didn’t think she would be able to make anything at all but very slowly she started to use her right hand more and more.
To start with, Sue wanted to try making a little mouse out of fabric. Her first character was Father Christmas and he took several weeks to complete but this started the ball rolling. Over the next eight months Sue worked every day on her mice and has now completed 31, all with difference names, clothes, characters and personalities.
She has created the most beautiful wedding scene complete with a church, guests, food and even a photographer! Some are modelled after real people, like the vicar who takes after Sue’s grandfather, while others are a combination of people she has known.
Not only has this project helped a great deal with Sue’s physical recovery, it’s made such a difference to her mental health:
I can sew, I can mentally feel good. I can create, which is something I have done all my life and it’s meant so much to me.
It took quite a lot of motivation to get going again after coming out of hospital. But the people who have looked after me, like Wendy, have been an inspiration to me. I can be on my knees and she helps keep me going and encourages me all the time. And she could tell I could get a lot better by carrying on.
Now that the wedding is complete, Sue’s next project is going to be a nativity scene ready for Christmas. If the wedding scene is anything to go by, it’s sure to be impressive!