About us: History of Torrevieja Stroke Support

The Torrevieja Stroke Support Group was formed in January, 2007. Charity status was applied for in December of that year and finalized in February/March 2008. The Group came into being when Diana Beavan a physiotherapist and Louie Killeen an ex-Social Worker and carer approached Age Concern in their La Siesta premises, separately and unknown to each other in the autumn of 2006.  

A Speech and Language Therapist, Kelly Allan advertised in the local press and so the basis of a team with some knowledge and a little understanding of Stroke and it´s consequences developed. Both Diana and Kelly had worked with stroke survivors and were aware of a need in this area. 

Louie Killeen

After my husband suffered a stroke in May 2005, and through my former social worker experience I too knew of the benefits of group support and contact. My motivation for getting involved was prompted when after a year or so of my husband´s stroke and the initial trauma was beginning to settle I found there was a developing social gap in our lives. We had been in Spain some 15 years; my husband had been a fit mountain walker and Scottish country dance teacher. He had no heart problems, no blood pressure or cholesterol problems, no diabetic signs. He did not smoke and did not drink excessively. The hospital did discover he had an irregular heart beat; but apparently so do lots of people, and with no ill effects.

The neurologist told me it was just sheer bad luck – a strike out of the blue. His was a big stroke, he could not walk, his right side was impaired, his speech badly affected, he had difficulty swallowing and I needed to liquidize his food initially. He was incontinent. I fairly soon realized his intellect was not badly affected and that if I spoke clearly and without confusion, quite difficult for me at that time, he could comprehend well enough.

When he was about to be discharged from Hospital the Neurologist told me any recovery would be slow and she was unable to say how much recovery there might be. She felt I would require domiciliary help and should see the social worker; obviously something I knew about and I did this.

However over the weekend after my husband was discharged I found I could manage him and cancelled domiciliary help before it actually started. I was fortunate in that he is not a huge heavy man. We needed to have the house altered to make access easier. A friend came to stay for a couple of months. Friends and acquaintances came to visit; it felt in droves and I was tired and exhausted. Joseph could not turn himself at night and I found I was up every two hours or so helping and changing him. But again I was lucky in that his emotional state on the whole was stable. Some stroke sufferers can be very upset, emotional and frustrated by their plight.

Eventually we settled into a pattern, attending the hospital rehabilitation by ambulance. Then when he was able to stand and balance better, I could manage to get him in and out of a wheel chair and via our new ramp he could get into the car which gave us greater freedom and independence. As that first year concluded our friends still called but less frequently and when they came, spoke of their (and our) previous activities – of which by now we were losing touch with. The gap in my life, whilst I was still very busy and tired, widened and I felt isolated. I tried to pick up on a few things, but I was uneasy at being away. After rehabilitation had ended, I kept in touch with two other wives whose husbands attended rehabilitation at the same time as my husband. They too were feeling lonely and isolated.

I began to think about a self-help support group, as had sprung up in the UK under the Stroke Association in the UK.

I thought about it during the hot summer of 2006, thinking the idea might go away. It didn´t and so in the autumn approached Age Concern and, as I said, it was amazing that Diana a physiotherapist and Kelly and speech and language therapist were about at the same time. We met together and our first meeting took place in January, 2007.

The Torrevieja Stroke Support Group is continually evolving and developing. In this coastal area of Spain which is well populated by English speaking residents there is developing a network of professional expertise in the wider area of stroke cause and care. Some of these professionals and ex-professionals are now working with the group as volunteers and committee members and bring valued insight. But perhaps those who have the most understanding and knowledge of the emotional impact of the stroke experience and the precipitous change in life style stroke brings are the members themselves.

In group meetings we have the opportunity to share our grief, sadness, anxiety, anger and guilt and though ours is not a total loss, we do need to help each other express bereavement for a way of life that is now largely lost and to accept change into another direction and focus. We try to provide practical help and ideas on managing in the home and care of our husbands or wives. A big advantage of living in Spain is of course the weather and hopefully with it a “feel good” factor and once a month we meet for a social outing and lunch in difference locations.

Since becoming a charity we have started to receive donations and to arrange our own Charity fund raising events. We are building a collection of informative books on stroke and it´s management; aphasia; occupation therapy and physiotherapy. We have some physiotherapy equipment, and speech and language programmesAs the Support Group becomes more known we are finding people are phoning for advice and support. 

A paper trying to give information and support has been compiled and is available on this website or by e-mail as required. 

Age Concern together with the Torrevieja Stroke Support Group have managed to lease further space in the Municipal building backing onto the La Siesta premises and we too benefit from this in that we can now increase our range of activities and services as we receive more volunteers and expertise. Initially Meetings were once per month but from January 2009 we have Meetings on each Friday afternoon between 2.45pm and 5pm (except in a 5 week month). We have a monthly programme, which can be accessed elsewhere on this website.


The Group is affiliated to the Stroke Association in the UK and is a Registered Charity in Spain.  We keep a membership record, and there is an annual membership fee of €1.

Louie Killeen. May 2009.