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Comedian Adrian Walsh admits he could have died when he had a stroke

Published 21/01/2016

Resting up: Adrian Walsh is recovering from a stroke in England
Resting up: Adrian Walsh is recovering from a stroke in England
Household name: Adrian performing at the London Palladium
The late Frank Carson
Legendary acts who Adrian has toured with including singer Glen Campbell
Legendary acts who Adrian has toured with including singer Barry Manilow
Legendary acts who Adrian has toured with including singer Shirley Bassey

Local comedian Adrian Walsh has revealed that he is lucky to be alive after taking a potentially deadly stroke just seven weeks ago.

The Bangor-born comic had no idea he was having a stroke while doing what he loves best - making audiences laugh.

The 66-year-old, who is a household name in the UK and famous for his hilarious observational comedy across the world, was working on a cruise ship in Portugal when he took a severe stroke and somehow managed to carry on performing even though he had lost feeling in his legs.

He was rushed to hospital in Madeira, where he was shocked to be told that the position of the stroke - near the centre of the brain - should have either killed him or left him with locked-in syndrome.

Now, light-heartedly referring to it as his "lucky stroke", the tireless performer is feeling deep gratitude that he is recovering well from what he now regards as a "wake-up call".

After 50 years as a comic travelling all over the world performing at top venues, Adrian has cancelled what was a packed dairy of engagements for the next six months, so for the first time in his life is facing up to the fact that he needs to slow down.

He says: "I don't drink and I don't smoke and I keep myself fit, so it was a shock.

"I am still flying all over the world and my sleeping pattern is all over the place, so maybe that was a factor.

"It took three days for it to happen without me knowing it. It started with a weakness in my legs, but I felt better the next day and went on and did two shows.

"During the second show, though, I did feel that I was slurring my words a bit and I couldn't lift my legs. That night, I didn't sleep very well and I went to the doctor the next day and he thought I maybe had Bell's palsy or a virus.

"Then my foot went numb and I was taken to a private hospital in Madeira, which was absolutely sensational.

"The medics there told me a stroke of this nature which occurs in the centre of the brain would usually kill you or leave you with locked-in syndrome."

That was November 27 and Adrian spent three weeks in hospital in Portugal before flying to Gatwick on December 16, where he was met by an ambulance and taken home to Somerset, where he has been recuperating ever since.

He still has some numbness on the right side of his body, but his speech which was slurred is now fine and, thanks to intensive physiotherapy twice a day, has been able to swap a walking frame for a stick.

Celebrities from the world of TV and entertainment have inundated him with goodwill messages and TV personality Chris Tarrant, who also suffered a stroke, was one of the first on the phone to offer his support.

Adrian is a big name in comedy, not just in the UK, but worldwide.

Married to his childhood sweetheart Vivienne, who he met when he was 17, they have two children - Danielle (37), who works for MGM in London, and Callum (31), who lives in Brazil.

He says his wife has been his biggest supporter throughout his career and he describes his marriage of 44 years as "wonderful", adding Vivienne is "the best thing that ever happened to me".

Adrian has made around 300 TV appearances and was a regular on The Val Doonican Show and the Roy Walker Show, has appeared on the Des O'Connor Show 11 times and more recently on the popular Today show with Des and Mel.

He has played the London Palladium 14 times and toured with a long list of world-renowned icons, including Barry Manilow, Glen Campbell, Neil Sedaka, Petula Clark, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Shirley Bassey.

The local comic's career has taken him round the world three and half times.

It all started when he was a schoolboy in Bangor and he got involved in performing in the Boys Brigade and at school.

In his early teens - before he was old enough to drink - he was doing the rounds of the clubs in Belfast.

It was an era when Belfast had a number of famous dance halls and other up and coming comedians who he worked alongside, included Jimmy Cricket and the late great Frank Carson.

Adrian recalls: "When I was 16, I was doing gigs on the Shankill and the Falls Road in Belfast on the same night. I would perform

to page 26

Belfast Telegraph

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