Stroke survivor becomes table tennis champion after miracle recovery

© DC ThomsonRichard McLaren, 71, survived a stroke.
Richard McLaren, 71, survived a stroke.

A Dundee stroke survivor who lost his speech has told how he made a miraculous recovery and went on to become a table tennis champion aged 71.

Richard McLaren collapsed suddenly at home six years ago when he and his wife were getting ready to go to Wimbledon to watch the tennis.

He spent three weeks in Ninewells Hospital and was unable to speak for three months.

However, after a gruelling rehabilitation period, Richard recovered and even re-visited various sports that he had been involved with in the past.

Recently he won the Gillis Trophy, a table tennis singles competition in the third division of the Dundee and District league.

Richard said: “I want to show people that a stroke doesn’t have to mean your life’s over.

“You can still live normally and even take part in sports. I’m involved with table tennis, golf and tennis.

“I still have Aphasia, a problem with speech, which comes and goes, but I’ve otherwise recovered and lead a perfectly normal life.

“It all started six years ago — the stroke came completely out of the blue.

“My wife and I had tickets to go to Wimbledon and were all packed and ready to go when I collapsed.

“I was taken to hospital and remained there for several weeks.”

Richard said that after the stroke, his brain was “completely confused” and he found it difficult to keep a positive outlook.

He added: “I had to completely reprogram my brain so that I could speak and recognise words. It was really tough and difficult to remain positive as it didn’t feel like I’d ever get back to normal.

“But with lots of hard work I regained my speech.

“Once that happened, I wanted to go back to some of my former interests.

“I took up table tennis after a 16-year hiatus — I’d first taken it up aged 21 and then stopped.

“I got together with a few friends and we put a team together, starting off in the third division.”

The inspiring pensioner continued: “Recently I put my name forward for a singles competition  named the Gillis Trophy, after property developer and entrepreneur Sid Gillis, and would you believe it, I won it.


“I’m really proud of my own recovery and achievement, even if I say so myself.”