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“I asked God that I might achieve…..
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked God for health that I might do great things….
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy….
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men…
I was given weakness
That I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life….
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for.
Also, despite myself,
My unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, amongst all people, most richly blessed.”

(Author Unknown)

When Gareth decided to go out for drinks with friends, little did he know he would find a career path and begin a long and difficult journey in order to achieve it. Unaware the bar he'd chosen was hosting a promotional night for a large Manchester radio station, two of the stations presenters were playing the music and entertaining the crowd. Gareth didn’t listen to the radio much so was unaware of their local celebrity status. It seemed these two young men had a life of riley, four hours a day in a studio talking about music and current affairs, with the bonus of a hefty wage packet at the end of the week. This seemed a very attractive job and one in which the only major work tool was your voice.

However in Gareth's case there was a significant problem. From childhood He'd suffered from a serious stammer which made communication very difficult. The idea of any involvement in radio broadcasting seemed completely impossible.

The next morning Gareth woke to catch the Dj’s breakfast show; hopefully they would mention his name on air. They never did. Disappointed and miserable he wondered what to do next. How would it be possible to work in an industry were vocal communication plays such a major part and how would he present a radio show when even saying his own name was practically impossible.

Before we continue lets me make it clear that during childhood Gareth had undergone several attempts at NHS speech therapy, with very little success. With this in mind, a feeling of desperation set in and fear of being lumbered with this problem for the rest of his life was terrifying.

Having a stammer doesn’t just effect you physically, it also effects you mentally and zaps your self confidence. At school Gareth was teased and bullied and would occasionally, fake illnesses in order to have a day off. Certain teachers would sympathise and give support; but others would ignore the problem and make him read in class.

Raised in a loving Christian family meant that a focus and belief in God was and has always been important. Sometimes it can be difficult to trust 100% in God. However you quickly realise that you can't do it alone.

One day Gareth's prayers were answered. On returning home from school, after picking up his younger brother, Gareth's mum had found herself in conversation with a parent named Melanie Ashton. Mel was an experienced drama teacher and the conversation had strayed onto Gareth's predicament. She was certain she could help! He attempted to ring Mel but had to hang up briskly when he couldn’t get the words out. On the third attempt Gareth managed to force out who he was to Mel’s husband and waited for Mel to pick up the phone. After a long conversation Mel was insistent that she could help.

As you can imagine he was sceptical but this was his last hope and he was willing to give anything a go. The first session was a hugely daunting experience. It wasn't until the second session that the hard work really began. The first stage was to teach breathing exercises by wrapping a belt around his chest and beginning each sentence with a big breath. Next was to build up confidence by interviewing several of Mel’s drama pupils. As you can imagine this was a very embarrassing and terrifying experience.

An improvement quickly became apparent and after about a month Gareth could string a sentence together. After 3 months his speech was broken up but holding a conversation became possible. After 6 months he'd been blessed with the use of his voice. It was now possible to speak on the phone, ask for things in shops, and be included in conversations.

While all this was going on, Gareth was nearing the end of a college course in ICT. With a new found interest in radio and a new found voice the ICT course seemed somewhat mundane, what to do next? If he was going to go to university the only subject of interest would be Radio

Gareth started a degree in Media Radio Production at Manchester University in 2002.
It was always going to be a problem being on a course which involved a large amount of speaking and reading. Although now speaking fairly fluently his confidence was still low. In year 1 Gareth tried to hide the fact that he'd ever stammered. Not wanting people’s sympathy and wanted to be judged simply on the quality of his work. It was not until the 2nd year that a decision was made to tell people about his stammering past. " I remember being shocked how surprised people were. I'd imagined many had already noticed! "

In July 2005 Gareth managed to fulfil one part of his dream when he graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Media Radio production. "To date that was the proudest moment of my life. To any graduate it’s a proud moment, but to me it held a special significance"

Today Gareth continues to work in radio having previous worked for some of the countries biggest radio stations. He also has experience in TV and continues to build his
Portfolio.