Tom’s empowering mission to overcome his stammer

Date Released - 20/10/2023

Stammering has empowered a Tameside Council employee to find his voice and succeed in challenging speaking situations when they arise.

Tom Evans, 39, in the council’s communications team, has had the speech impediment since childhood but thanks to a breathing technique used by opera singers he has it under control.

Tom said: “Developing a stammer at primary school was a real challenge for me and I really struggled to properly express myself for some time. One of my biggest fears was reading out loud in class, when I’d always be making excuses to leave the room so I could miss my turn.”

The Tameside Council-backed International Stammering Awareness Day on Sunday 22 October promotes the importance of educating the public on the difficulties people with stammers can face. This includes negative attitudes and discrimination, as well as discrediting myths like people who stammer not being as intelligent.

However, there’s much more to stammering, or stuttering, than just difficulties saying certain words. This invisible barrier to speaking can impact someone’s mental health making them fearful of speaking situations, avoiding them where possible and severely impacting their confidence and their overall life choices.

It's estimated that stammering, which doesn’t have a cure, affects around 1 in 50 adults, with men being around 3 to 4 times more likely to stammer than women.

Tom said: “I was keen that my stammer shouldn’t define the sort of career I went for, as I know this can happen, and wanted to follow my passions knowing there would be lots of speaking opportunities with all kinds of people. This was something that really excited me.”

Wanting to find a way to manage his stammer, Tom signed up for the McGuire Programme, a course that teaches individuals to costal breathe and speak from the chest, while also practicing speaking with strangers and on a soapbox in public. Through this programme, he discovered that his stammer was not a hindrance but a unique part of his identity, one to embrace to connect with others.

Tom said: "The McGuire Programme empowered me to overcome any speaking challenges. Through perseverance and support, I've learned that my stammer doesn't define me; it's a part of who I am. I hope my story can inspire others.

“You have to put a bit of work in and practice on your speech, but that makes it all the more rewarding when you succeed in previously challenging situations.”

Cllr Eleanor Wills, Tameside Council Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Tom’s journey shows us the impact stammering can have on an individual is one we don’t typically appreciate when seeing someone struggling to speak and having speech blocks. Stammering can take a huge toll on someone but there is support out there if you’re struggling.”

Tom has one piece of advice for stammerers: “Over the years, I’ve spoken to thousands of people about stammering and 99% of the time have had a welcoming, receptive response. If you have a stammer and are in a challenging speaking situation it’s tough when you get a big block, but the vast majority of people will be patient with you while you get through it.

“If you find yourself dealing with someone with a stammer, please give us the time to speak as finishing our sentences can feel frustrating and dent our confidence.”

Anyone looking for support or information on stammering should head to the British Stammering Association’s website by visiting