Academy FM Thanet presenter vows to raise stroke awareness after lifesaving surgery

Jerry was in the studio when he experienced a loss of vision

By Liz Crudgington

A radio presenter from Broadstairs has pledged to use the station to raise awareness of stroke after experiencing one where the only symptom was sudden blurred vision.

Jerry Banks is part of the team at Academy FM Thanet and was in the studio when he suddenly realised he could not read his notes.

When an eye test revealed no issues, he sought a second opinion from a different optician who referred him to his GP, who then sent him to East Kent Hospitals’ consultant Tom Webb.

Dr Webb immediately suspected a stroke and scans confirmed his suspicion, and revealed a life-threatening blood clot in an artery in Jerry’s neck.

The 66 year old said: “I always thought of stroke as being a major event where you are paralysed, and it affects your speech, and one side of the body collapses.

“But for me it was purely the vision issues. It was quite extreme; when I tried to read the paper I could only read one word at a time and the rest of the sentence was blurred.

“I thought I was going blind – I never imagined it would be a stroke.”

Jerry was offered an MRI scan the day after speaking to his GP, and the results revealed he had suffered a stroke that had affected his eyesight and speech.

Just a few days later surgeon Lal Senaratne operated to remove the clot.

Jerry said: “It all happened very fast. Mr Senaratne operated on the Saturday, and I had only spoken to my GP on the Monday.

“But he said one day later might have been too late. It sounds really dramatic, and it was hard to believe it was happening. Everyone acted with the utmost urgency and efficiency.”

As Jerry recovered in intensive care, Mr Senaratne came to check on him and showed him the scan, revealing how close the clot was to blocking blood flow to his brain.

He said: “It was pretty emotional. I was choked up at the enormity of what had happened.

“He had saved my life. I said I didn’t know how to thank him and he said if I could use my position at the radio to raise awareness of stroke that would be enough for him.

“The second I got home I was on the phone to the studio. We are making a stroke awareness advert and I will talk about it live on air on the breakfast show.

“I want people to know if you have any sudden symptoms you should speak to your GP. If I had waited, I might not be here to tell the tale.”

Dr Webb said: “Stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time, and is a life-threatening medical emergency.

“Although Mr Banks did not experience the classic symptoms of stroke – where someone’s face appears to droop on one side, they experience weakness in one side of their body and their speech is slurred – they are still the most common and it’s vital that everyone is aware of them.

“But any sudden severe symptoms should always be checked with a medical professional.”

The acronym FAST, for face, arms, speech, time, can be used to remember the most common stroke symptoms. Time refers to time to call 999 if you see any of the three symptoms mentioned.

Other less well-known symptoms of stroke include confusion, difficulty understanding what someone is saying, problems with balance or co-ordination or difficulty swallowing. For more information visit or


  1. Great article. It’s a shame our MPs were too busy with Manston airport that they let our stroke unit get moved to Ashford. So much for the golden hour being stuck in traffic!

    • The golden hour is a misnomer for most, the care you receive via paramedics en-route will be enough for most-the critical period for the majority is really in the ensuing days.

      • Steve time IS of the essence when someone is having a stroke believe me I am speaking from experience the days after the stroke are used to determine the damage caused to the brain and what effect it has had on your body from that time on you are in recovery mode I had a recovery of sorts still alive but permanently disabled but much stronger than I ever was. Had they taken me to Ashford I would probably not have if you think someone may be having a stroke please do something to help P D Q

    • A good news story but you cannot resist a dig at people. Please grow up and congratulate NHS for what they did for Mr Banks.

  2. Steve what you say about stroke is incorrect. Paramedics cannot treat a stroke in the ambulance as need a scan to diagnose whether a blood clot or a bleed , or indeed actually a stroke (30% of suspected strokes are another problem). If you treat as a clot without a scan, and it is a bleed, will cause catastrophic brain haemorrhage. The golden hour means symptoms to scan and treatment. Every minute is vital to save lives snd prevent disability. Increased transport times can be lethal.

  3. Agree with Dr Coral Jones. The decision to diminish services at QEQM will ensure poor stroke patients have a reduced chance of a better outcome. Shame our MPs wouldn’t lift a finger to save the stroke unit

  4. Ashford is too far. It is vital for the people of Thanet that we have a HASU in closer proximity. As the local County Councillor with a seat on the Kent Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee I organised a Judicial Review to challenge this crass decision. I am awaiting leave to appeal. It is a very slow process. But let’s hope an appeal against this dreadful decision is granted. It’s our last chance.

  5. Well done Karen! Moving the stroke unit just to save a few bob from the QEQM, will almost certainly cause extreme health risk to people, and for what? Just so a few people at the East Kent Clinical Commissioning Group can get an OBE, or MBE! What are our two Tory MP’s doing about this? Nothing, absolutely nothing! They should be organising demonstrations, and raising it in Parliament! Perhaps they would take more interest in Thanet if they lived here!

  6. Thank you Dr Jones for stating the reality, that paramedics cannot treat a stroke victim in the ambulance. I wonder who started this rumour?! This is so serious – there are so many misunderstandings about this. In fact our MP Roger Gale told me that the importance of the ‘golden hour’ (from symptoms to scan in hospital) isn’t accurate. And yes ‘Dumpton’ you are right, our MP Roger Gale has made it very clear that he supports moving our stroke unit to Ashford – and we all know how damaging that will be to Thanet residents. And now with our roads blocked due to such a disorganised Brexit, who knows how long it would take Thanet residents to get to Canterbury or Ashford Hospital?

  7. I was one of the supporters at the rally’s trying to keep the QEQM stroke unit at Margate. I wanted it to remain at Margate. They said they could treat a stroke in the ambulance by scan to diagnose on route with now technology and we got hogwash, and even the consultant from Ashford arrived late to jeers due to the traffic! Hope you understand my post as little did I know I was going to need the stroke unit for myself. Thank you QEQM.

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