Paramedic invites stammer sufferers to open day

John encourages others to learn how to manage the condition

Inspirational NEAS paramedic John O'Neill has overcome a crippling stammer which he has suffered from since being child to land his dream job of becoming a paramedic.

John O'Neill, from Hartlepool, did not believe that he would ever be able to carry out his dream of becoming an emergency response ambulance paramedic due to his severe speech impediment which he has suffered from since he was a young boy.

But after being given an opportunity to become an ambulance driver when he was 22-years-old, despite not being able to speak properly in his interview for the job, the father-of-three was determined to overcome his demon.

He embarked upon a course called The McGuire Programme which works on the neurological and psychological aspects of stammering, and his impediment improved no end.

So much so that when he was 30-years-old, he won himself a job as a paramedic for the North East Ambulance Service for which he drives a rapid response vehicles and is often first on the scene at major incidents.

John, said: "To be perfectly honest, prior to the course I had no chance of becoming a paramedic while my speech was like that.

"I'd probably still be doing patient transport. I've never really wanted to do anything else though so I knew I had to do it and I'm so glad I did."

He added: "One of the reasons why I wanted to be a paramedic is because my gran had suffered a fall. I just knew it was what I wanted to do.

"I'm still actually really surprised I got the job as an ambulance driver though because I thought I'd blown it in the interview.

"I stammered all the way through and I could barely say a word. I'm just grateful that the interviewer saw something in me though and gave me the job."

John, who has now become an organiser for The McGuire Programme, in Newcastle, to help others with speech problems, had tried different kinds of speech therapy and even hypnotherapy to try to cure his speech but nothing worked.

He said: "I joined the programme in 1998 and its quite an intensive course, it gets really drilled into you and I can now say that as long as I use the techniques I was taught, I don't stammer."

Anyone who would like any further information on The McGuire Programme should log onto

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