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Hungerford theatre group's special performance for 37-year-old stroke victim

Performance of Vicar of Dibley play raising funds towards recovery

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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Hungerford theatre group's special performance for 37-year-old stroke victim

The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company is staging a special one-off performance in aid of a former member who suffered a devastating stroke, aged just 37.

Jennie Rushford was stricken in July by a suspected ruptured artery, which formed a clot, preventing blood and oxygen from reaching her brain.

Mrs Rushford, who worked for Hungerford-based firm Tomorrow’s Guides, survived, but sustained both aphasia and dyspraxia.

This means she has difficulty understanding others’ speech and recalling her own vocabulary and is also having to relearn reading and writing.

Her mother Jeanette Kersey, who has been mayor of Hungerford twice and this year retired as office manager at the Hungerford Surgery, said her daughter was “well-loved in the town and is a former performer with the Community of Hungerford Theatre Company”.

She said her daughter needs specialist daily help and added: “I know that the NHS can only do so much.”

Consequently, Mrs Rushford’s husband Todd has established a GoFundMe page on which he states: “For those of you that know Jennie, you may agree that she is known for her bubbly, caring, gregarious personality and so it feels even more cruel that the stroke has silenced the very aspects of her personality which define her.

“We know she’s still in there, we can tell when we hear her laugh, see her furrowed eyebrows when a sentence comes out which she wasn’t expecting or the odd snarky comment.

“We know that when we are with her, helping with communication daily, she makes significant progress.

“But we can’t be there forever and she needs specialist help and guidance.”

To help boost the fund, the theatre company is presenting a special, charity performance of its production of The Vicar of Dibley, in aid of the Jennie Rushford Rehabilitation Fund.

The Vicar of Dibley director David Clayton said: “As we in the theatre rely on the power of speech, it is particularly fitting that we support Jennie, both as a former member and as part of our community.

“We hope the funds we raise with our performance can help her recovery.”

Mrs Kersey said: “It’s lovely that the theatre group is doing this – we’re all very touched.

“So many people in Hungerford have been so supportive of Jenny and Todd and her two stepchildren.

“It’s a very special town in that way.”

The charity performance will be the last in a successful run of the play.

Based on the classic TV comedy, it covers three episodes of life in Dibley, including the infamous wedding of Alice and Hugo.

The charity performance is this Sunday, at 7.30pm, at Herongate auditorium and has been sponsored by The Herongate Club.

Tickets are £10, available from www.hungerfordtheatre.com or Crown Needlework in Hungerford High Street, telephone (01488) 684011.

If you would like to donate to the fund, visit www.gofundme.com/jennies-recoverys-treatment

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