‘You can have a life after a stroke,’ says pupil

Student honoured for her school photography portfolio that documents her recovery from a stroke at the age of 14

Henry Hepburn

WATCH: ‘You can have a life after stroke,’ says pupil

A pupil who suffered a stroke went on to become an award-winning photographer after documenting her recovery in her Higher portfolio.

Brenna Collie, a sixth-year student at Mintlaw Academy, in Aberdeenshire, was just 14 when she had to learn to walk again, as well as coming to terms with what she describes as her “new normal”.

She decided to document her recovery in her Higher photography portfolio, through 12 striking images. One of the photos – titled Trapped, which conveys the fear she felt at the time of her initial diagnosis – resulted in her winning the 2019 Scottish Portrait Awards Young Photographer prize.


Quick read: Students' photos give ‘unique insight’ into their lives

Photography: Why your school should be teaching photography

Supporting pupils: The Tes pastoral care and pupil matters hub


Ms Collie said: “Other than learning how to walk, the aftermath of my stroke affected me in many ways, and still does to this day. In making my portfolio, I wanted to be completely honest, and it not only shows my physical recovery but also my emotional recovery, and the things that helped me through it.

“I wanted to show that you can have a life after stroke, regardless of how old you are.”

The impact of childhood stroke

She added: “I’m also really keen to raise awareness of childhood stroke, in whatever way I can, turning my experience into a positive experience by helping others. By doing this, I hope to make a difference in making people aware that it can happen and letting those in my situation know they are not so alone.”

Ms Collie’s achievements were recognised at a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s education and children’s services committee last week.

Chair Gillian Owen said: “We are incredibly proud of Brenna’s achievements, the courage she has shown throughout what must have been an incredibly difficult time for a young person, in particular, to go through, and the commitment she continues to demonstrate to such an important cause by sharing her story with us.”

Ms Collie was encouraged to enter the Scottish Portrait Awards by her mother.

Rosemary Bruce, vice-chair of the council committee, told Ms Collie that “we are truly in awe of you”, and added: “I would also like to highlight the importance of parents or carers and schools working together to support young people, regardless of what life throws at them.

“I’m sure Brenna would join me in giving thanks to the team at Mintlaw Academy and her family and wider support network for all the help they have given her throughout this journey.”

*To see Brenna Collie's photographic story, click here

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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