Parkinson’s sufferer ghts for S support for speech therapy
PARKINSON’S PATIENT Elan Shoffman struggles with a speech impediment as a result of his condition.
He defied expectation to give the father of the bride’s speech at the wedding of his daughter Amanda Gale — but only after raising more than £3,000 from a crowdfunding campaign for speech therapy for which there is limited NHS availability.
Now the Borehamwood-based 65-year-old has made a short film about his experience and is urging MPs to lobby their local NHS bodies to clarify speech and language therapy availability for Parkinson’s sufferers.
“NHS support for speech therapy has been reduced and it is now a postcode lottery, leaving many with costly private sessions,” the former Israeli Navy officer complained.
“I was lucky to have the support of so many people to back my speech therapy so I had the confidence to speak at my daughter’s wedding.
“But MPs should speak up to ensure their constituents can access decent speech therapy services if needed.
“I was having sessions once every four to six weeks on the NHS. It was not enough to see an improvement.”
The money raised allowed Mr Shoffman to have weekly sessions. “You have no idea how frustrating it is having something on the tip of your tongue but not being able to say it,” he added.
“You feel hopeless and helpless. It makes me not want to see friends or go out.” He can no longer drive and has moved into supported living.
Speaking at the wedding last August in front of 250 guests “felt amazing. They all came up to me after and said it was the best speech.”
The bride was “really nervous when dad walked up to do his speech. I was worried he would stutter or just freeze in front of everyone.
“Within minutes he had us in tears and by the end there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as dad received a standing ovation.
“I am so proud of him. I know it is an honour he didn’t want taken away from him.”
But Mr Shoffman’s speech has deteriorated since the wedding as he cannot afford the regular therapy sessions.
“I find it hard to have conversations with friends. It is just really frustrating.”
The film will be shown to an audience of friends and interested parties at a reception at Ort House, Camden, on February 23.
Speaking at my daughter’s wedding felt amazing’
Elan Shoffman with daughter Amanda on her wedding day