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BBC F1 presenter Jennie Gow to talk of stroke at Headway Conference


Neurology charity Headway Suffolk is delighted to announce that BBC Formula 1 presenter Jennie Gow will be a keynote speaker at Headway Suffolk’s annual conference in 2024.

Jennie is one the most recognisable faces in F1 and an integral part in the BBC’s coverage. The broadcaster also featured heavily in the production of season three of Netflix’s hit F1 documentary Drive to Survive and played a big role in its success.

In early January the journalist revealed she had suffered a serious stroke at the age of 45 and has spent the months since learning to walk and, more significantly, to talk again.

To mark stroke awareness month in May, Jennie shared her experiences on The One Show, BBC Breakfast and BBC 5 Live.

 “Up until December my life was travelling the world as a sports presenter and journalist but then my life changed dramatically,” said the presenter.

“Just after Christmas I got sick. It wasn’t Covid but I had a terrible cough. I felt that I was instantaneously drunk. My husband Jamie found me collapsed in the bathroom. I had no warning. Even now, doctors say if somebody had looked at me half an hour before I had my stroke they wouldn’t have known.”


The majority of strokes are caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that supplies the brain.

Jennie’s stroke was caused by a blood clot in the carotid artery in the neck, a tear in the blood vessel due to coughing and a viral infection she had at the time. It is extremely rare, but not unknown, for a viral cough to cause a stroke.

Jennie had the clot removed but it had already damaged part of the brain associated with speech.

Jennie continued: “It’s hard to get the words out sometimes, which is annoying for someone who never normally got lost for words. I’ve done so many hours of work with speech and language therapy because of how much I want to speak again properly.

“I still feel numb down my right side. My sense of taste has gone and I get very tired but my voice is getting better.

“I am training my brain to read and write again. My daughter (Isabel, six) is probably ahead of me with that. There’s a lot that goes into rehab and it takes hours every day. I’m lucky I’m able to walk and move around perfectly well but it’s just my brain and my speech I have to work on.

“I am determined to come back as strong as ever and I want to share my experiences to try and shine a light on stroke survivors.”

Headway Suffolk’s ninth annual Conference will take place on Wednesday 15 May 2024 at Kesgrave Conference and Community Centre. More speakers will be announced in due course.

The Conference has proved popular over the years with health professionals and the public alike, with past speakers including Prof Stephen Hawking and Chris Tarrant.