EastEnders regular Patrick Trueman (Rudolph Walker) is to have a major stroke as part of an upcoming storyline that is set to explore the topic of care for the elderly.
The plot will follow Patrick's journey from the initial signs that something is wrong to the stroke and its severe consequences. The outcome - and the effect the stroke has on both Patrick and those closest to him - will be charted throughout the rest of 2014.
Rudolph Walker, who has played Patrick since 2001, said today: “This is a truly important storyline as strokes affect so many different people, in so many different ways. We are all working very hard on this and I really hope Patrick’s story can help raise awareness.”
Dominic Treadwell-Collins, executive producer at EastEnders, added: "This is an important storyline in so many ways. Not only does it give the wonderful Rudolph Walker a chance to shine, but we also hope it will raise awareness of the warning signs that come before a stroke and the difficulties of caring for the elderly in 21st century Britain."
Show bosses have worked with stroke experts, charities, as well as stroke survivors while researching the plotline. Joe Korner, Director of External Affairs at the Stroke Association, said of Patrick's journey, "Many people will be able to identify with this storyline, including the 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK. A stroke can leave people facing the rest of their lives with a disability, and the emotional strain caused by the condition can be devastating.
We’re thrilled that Rudolph Walker is taking on this challenging role and are very pleased to have been able to offer our advice and support with the plot development. We hope that Patrick’s experiences will raise awareness amongst viewers particularly of the symptoms of a mini-stroke, which include facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, and last for a short period of time.
"It’s a warning sign that a stroke could be on the way, yet thousands of people dismiss a mini-stroke as ‘just a funny turn.’ It’s a medical emergency and anyone with those symptoms should call 999 immediately."