Student Overcomes Stammer to Win Award from Michael Palin

Student Georgie Simpson-Silo has been presented with an award by broadcaster Michael Palin for her work highlighting the plight of young people with a stammer.

The 18-year-old, who has just finished her final year at college, has stammered her whole life and said the condition has affected her confidence since she was at primary school.

For the last two years, she has been a member of the Action For Stammering Children Youth Panel, which aims to raise awareness of stammering.

“We have run media campaigns, helped schools become stammer aware and all sorts,” she said.

“The charity gives a voice to young people who stammer. I created some hold-up stammering cards for children and I also created a piano composition for ASC too which raised over £500.”

Michael Palin with Georgie Simpson-Silo
Michael Palin with Georgie Simpson-Silo

Georgie, who lives in the New Forest and attended The Gregg School in Southampton before college, has been having private speech therapy since she was ten but also went on courses at the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering in London. The centre has annual awards for young people and she was invited along after being nominated by her regular speech therapist.

She added: “The award was a huge surprise, I never expected to win an award ever so it was honestly very lovely that my speech and language therapist nominated me.

“I think a lot of us who stammer sometimes don’t realise how much we have achieved so it was really nice to have recognition of that. I just do my work for the love of helping others and wanting to give back to the therapists that have helped me.”

The centre was set up by the NHS and the Association for Research into Stammering Childhood in 1993. Palin lent his name to the centre after playing Ken, an assassin with a stammer, in the comedy film A Fish Called Wanda.

“He has a very kind and warm presence, I didn’t really feel nervous around him either which is a first because I was so nervous before going,” said Georgie. “He had great humour as well, he cares truly about the centre and everyone’s achievements. It was lovely.”