DAVE Wilson turned to a four-legged friend to help him make lifestyle changes after his stroke – a rescue greyhound called Rory.

Rory helps gives him the motivation to exercise and improve his health, cutting the risk of a further stroke.

Mr Wilson, 55, from Gateshead, was on a caravanning holiday with his wife Gerry in Wales in September 2017 when he had his stroke.

He said: “Every stroke is different. When I got home I was lucky in that I could walk, talk and use my hands, arms and legs, although not to the same extent as I could before my stroke.

“As a result, I started to change my life. I changed everything from diet to exercise, the whole lot. I completely overhauled my lifestyle.

“Now I’m doing more exercise, I’ve got a dog and have become much more active. Rory is just over six-years-old now and we have had him for about two-and-a-half years.

“Having Rory has done great things for me and my wife. Walking is a wonderful experience for me as after my stroke walking was not easy. We walk every day and hit at least the 10k steps.

“Getting fresh air, enjoying the sounds of birds and seeing wildlife is mentally soothing and helps stress. The exercise is great for my overall health.

“You need to walk a dog and this motivates me whatever the weather. I thought if I can walk a dog what else can you do?

“My wife did a lot of research into how to prevent strokes and we changed our lives. I didn’t eat chocolate or sweets, alcohol, or anything that was fattening. I ended up losing four and a half stone as a result.”

Mr Wilson now volunteers with the Stroke Association’s Moving Forwards After Stroke programme, helping stroke survivors to become more active and live a healthy lifestyle after stroke.

* The Stroke Association has launched a national campaign inspiring people to pledge to make one small change to reduce their risk of stroke ─ starting on Stroke Prevention day, Thursday 14 January. Pledge to make #OneSmallChange on Stroke Prevention Day. Visit www.stroke.org.uk/PreventionDay to find out how.