Wakefield Trinity legend Ken Rollins learns to speak again - now he wants to help others

Former Wakefield Trinity Player Ken Rollin talks about how he recovered from a stroke.
Former Wakefield Trinity Player Ken Rollin talks about how he recovered from a stroke.
Share this article

A sporting legend who learnt to speak again after a stroke is offering his help to people facing the same challenge.

Ken Rollin, 75, received a medal from the Queen after scoring the fastest ever try in a cup final at Wembley in 1960, when Wakefield Trinity beat Hull 38-5.

But he faced his toughest challenge almost 40 years later when, aged 61, he suffered a stroke.

Mr Rollin, of Water Lane, Middlestown, described the frightening experience of losing his speech and forgetting the names of family membebrs while at a Rugby League lunch in 1999.

He said: “I couldn’t communicate. I knew who they were but couldn’t remember their names.”

Thanks to a speedy response from an ambulance, the stroke was caught before causing any physical effects.

But it left Mr Rollin with aphasia, a disorder which takes away the ability to speak, read or write.

Mr Rollin had speech therapy as part of his recovery, but was told he would not be unable to return to public speaking, which he did as a charity fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation.

Mr Rollin said: “I said, ‘I do speeches, will I be able to do it again?’ They said I don’t think so.”

He refused to give up, and reached a breakthrough in 2001 when he recited a poem at his granddaughter’s christening.

He went on to speak in front of 300 people at a Stroke Association event in Harrogate.

Mr Rollin became chairman of the Wakefield branch of Speakability, which supports people with aphasia and holds monthly meetings.

He was also involved with setting up the charity SpeakwithIT, which usus computer software to help people restore their speech.

Mr Rollin said: “I have seen 150 people with aphasia and been to their homes to help in various ways.

“People with it think they are the only one with aphasia but there are about 250 people in the Wakefield district with aphasia that we are aware of.”