The Wave founder helps Emmerdale actor with stroke storyline

  • Watch Ellie Barker's report

The founder of The Wave in South Gloucestershire has been helping ITV soap Emmerdale with a story about a character suffering a stroke.

The character Marlon Dingle will suffer a stroke on his 48th birthday and for his research, actor Mark Charnock has been speaking with Nick Hounsfield who created the inland surfing destination in Easter Compton.

It took Nick ten years to make the project happen and just when he did he had a major stroke at the age of 46. He said he was fit and healthy and was playing hockey with friends at the time.

Nick said: “It was, fundamentally, a very scary moment. I guess my life just completely changed from that moment on. I almost had an out of body experience - I suddenly couldn’t track the hockey ball, I started to lose grip of my hockey stick and I felt like I was watching everything going on just behind me - 10 metres behind me watching myself.

“I’m probably 85% recovered. I’ve had a lot of help from friends, family, the Stroke Association have been critical for me getting recovered because it was right at the beginning of the pandemic.”

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Nick Hounsfield was 46 when he suffered a stroke Credit: ITV News West Country

The Stroke Association has worked closely with Emmerdale’s scriptwriters, story, research and production teams from the conception of the storyline to give a realistic and authentic depiction of Marlon’s journey.

The charity put the soap in touch with Nick to help actor Mark Charnock, as his much-loved character Marlon Dingle has a stroke on his 48th birthday after proposing to his partner, Rhona.

  • Watch: Emmerdale actor Mark Charnock on being inspired by stroke survivor Nick Hounsfield

Mark Charnock said: "Nick’s the perfect example of it can happen to anybody. His lifestyle is so healthy and he’s such an amazing force of nature. I don’t think we could have done it without Nick, to be honest.

"It’s an enormous responsibility to try and get it right for the survivors and their families and for those who’ve lost loved ones to this awful event. No two strokes are the same, but the after-effects are devastating. I’m very proud of the show for telling it and for letting me be a part of it."

Nick's vision for an inland surfing venue was realised when The Wave opened in 2019 Credit: ITV News West Country

On his involvement with Emmerdale, Nick said: “It was a little bit surreal and I’m just really grateful for the Stroke Association for getting in contact with me and wanting me to be part of that storyline and trying to help develop that.

"Mark is a really great guy, a really patient guy - he was very understanding. Fundamentally it is about understanding that emotional moment where suddenly the fear of God has gone through you. Suddenly your life feels like it’s on a knife edge."

While the storyline in Emmerdale may be fiction, for Nick Hounsfield this is the story of his life. He says he appreciates what he has every day and he is hoping his story will help others feel the same.