Walter Prepares To Talk Stammering

Putney resident with a lifelong stammer to make a speech with a difference


The Rotary Club of Putney
meets every Monday evening at London Rowing Club,
Putney Embankment,
SW15 1LB.
Meetings start at 6:30pm for 7pm.

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On 14th July Walter Scott, 40, will address the Putney Rotary Club at the London Rowing Club on the stigma of stammering, as one of 600,000 UK adults who have the condition which often classed as a disability.

Walter, who lives near Putney Common and has stammered since the age of three, classes his dysfluency as 'worse than average'. Yet despite this he works as a government communications specialist, which has included working with ministers on speeches, chairing meetings and giving presentations.

While he is full of praise for the Government for enabling him to pursue an unlikely career for someone who stammers, he believes that UK businesses and society have generally low levels of empathy for the condition. In the past he has been rejected from jobs, struggled with how best to declare his impediment in the recruitment process, and been cut-off mid-speech while using telephone-based services.

Walter says: "Talking is a rather significant feature of life. It is also an important factor in displaying your character and abilities to other people, not least employers. Most people don't find cause to think about that, but when speech is jinxed by unpredictable dysfluency there are serious long-term implications for careers and relationships, which are all too easily confused with comedy. Society does discriminate and little has changed there in my lifetime, such that far too many people still suffer for their entire lives in silence.

"It reflects the deep social values of the Rotary Club that they are willing to support a guest speaker who stammers. Openness is the key, and I believe that is ultimately the way forward for anyone who stammers. We need to declare it, we need to chat about it, we need to get out on the airwaves and promote it. We must educate society, and we must do it with all the attitude and chutzpah of Paralympians."

As a warm-up to the event Walter has recently given a talk at the Michael Palin Centre to a group of speech and language therapists with a special interest in stammering. He is now keen to engage other local organisations that want to hear about the condition.

Walter has recently joined the British Stammering Association, which is based in Bethnal Green, and provides support and information, raises awareness and lobbies for change. He is also attending counselling sessions with the intandem specialist speech and language therapy practice.

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million volunteers, operating in 34,000 clubs. Members of the public are encouraged to attend as visitors to listen to interesting guest speakers and learn more about Rotary, the work Rotary does in the community and abroad - and how to join as a member.

July 9, 2014

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