Northern Ireland

Belfast woman on how her ‘silent’ strokes and deaths of father and brother led her on path to volunteering

Jennifer Reid is sharing her story to mark Volunteers’ Week from June 3-9

Jennifer Reid
Jennifer Reid now volunteers with the NICHS following her own personal health battle

A Belfast woman who suffered two silent strokes and lost her father and brother to heart illness is hoping the devastation she has endured will inspire people to help others.

Jennifer Reid is sharing her story and how it led her on a path to helping others in a bid to mark Volunteers’ Week from June 3-9.

“You do really feel like you are making a difference, and it is a great feeling to do something not because you are getting paid for it but because you want to do it,” she said.

It was in 2020 when Jennifer unknowingly suffered two cerebellum strokes in the back of her brain.

“I was dealing with fatigue, memory loss, and struggling with my emotions,” she said.

“I thought maybe it was depression or the menopause, and I was originally diagnosed with vertigo.

“I was worried because I knew I wasn’t myself, so I asked for more tests. I was sent for a CT scan which found a lesion in the front of my brain.

“They didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but to investigate further, they sent me for an MRI.

“It revealed I had suffered two strokes to the back of my brain.”

A year before Jennifer, who is aged in her 50s, lost her father Hugh Taggart, to the same illness.

The family were also struck by tragedy earlier this year when Jennifer’s brother John, died from a heart attack.

“His heart just stopped. He was only 38,” she said.

“He was the youngest in the family, my mummy’s baby. It was such a shock.”

Jennifer Reid with her brother John Taggart
Jennifer Reid with her brother John Taggart

The tragedies and her own health battle prompted Jennifer to volunteer and fundraise for Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS).

She is involved in the charity’s post rehab exercise programme (PREP), a physiotherapy led, community-based course which helps rebuild people’s lives after stroke through exercise and education.

“I just loved everything about the group, and that is why I decided to volunteer and give back what I had received,” she said.

“If you have the time and the energy to volunteer, 100% do it.

“You get so much out of it and so much more than you realise.”

Jennifer Reid volunteering for NICHS
Jennifer Reid volunteering for NICHS

Caoimhe Devlin from NICHS said volunteering “will make a profound difference to the lives of local people and anyone interested in being part of this can find out more at”.