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Stroke survivor trains his way back to health and a new career

Gary was left paralysed by a stroke eight years ago. Credit: ITV Wales

Eight years ago Gary George had a stroke. He was just 35. After spending two months in hospital, he was paralysed down his left side side and unable to speak.

When he returned to south Wales he set about his recovery with intense physiotherapy sessions and speech and language therapy. Gary decided he wanted to aim high in his training, not just to regain what he had lost, but to face challenges that even the fittest of people may find difficult. He joined a gym in Cardiff and in the years that followed, he not only conquered the Three Peaks Challenge, but also walked the Great Wall of China, ran the London Marathon and even climbed to Everest Base Camp.

Gary has since qualified as a personal trainer after training with Mike Parsons at his Cardiff gym. Credit: ITV Wales

Gary first walked into my gym with very little speech and basically said 'I want to start training.' I sent Gary away and requested a medical clearance form first and literally 24-hours later, Gary walked back into the gym and pushed the medical clearance form across my front desk and said I want to train.

He just inspired everyone in the gym, it was his determination. He'd come back and do two sessions. I'd have to send him away and say 'right, now rest.' And he'd come back and try and do it again. I had to try and limit what he was trying to do to try and get the best out of him.

– Mike Parsons, gym owner

I wouldn't have thought that he was going to climb Mount Everest when I said we're going to have a go, where are we going to walk to. In his mind, he set a goal that he was going to walk Mount Everest and in my mind, we were going to walk to the toilet. It's a little discrepancy in where he wanted to go, but it shows that if you want to put your effort and your mind into it, a lot of things are achievable.

– Jakko Brouwers, Gary's physiotherapist

Now Gary is using the training skills he's learned to help others, by qualifying as a personal trainer specialising in training other stroke survivors, helping them to reach their own goals.

Watch Megan Boot's report: