Love letters read by Northwick Park staff help couple after man's stroke

Matthew and Alice Stamper

Matthew and Alice Stamper kept in touch with love letters read by Northwick Park Hospital staff. Picture: NWLH - Credit: NWLH

Love letters helped a newly married couple stay in touch when a man's stroke on the operating table led to him staying at Northwick Park Hospital for six months.

Matthew Stamper, who lives in Billericay, Essex, suffered a stroke during an operation to remove a brain tumour.

He was subsequently transferred to the Regional Hyperacute Rehabilitation Unit at the Watford Road hospital - a three hour round trip for wife Alice from their home.

There he remained for the next six months.

However, the couple were able to keep in touch via Letters to Your Loved Ones, an initiative from the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, which allows loved ones to send messages, greeting cards and pictures to any of its four hospitals.

“It was a real lifesaver for us,” said Alice, who was fitting in hospital visits around her full-time job as a legal secretary but was able to keep in touch with her husband every day thanks to the scheme.

Alice added: “The staff were fantastic and read the messages out to Matt as he was suffering from double vision. It just meant I and Matt’s family could be in contact with him every day.

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"It meant a lot to both of us and he has two folders full of the messages at home."

Letters to Your Loved Ones was the idea of Dr Bhavya Tyagi and colleagues who recognised the healing power of communication.

Restricted visiting hours during the pandemic has made it harder for families to visit their loved ones and the letters give patients the much-desired human contact they look forward to during their hospital stay.

Dr Tyagi said: “We just wanted to help people make that connection. No-one wants to be in hospital and visiting hours are the highlight of the day for most people, so having that taken away is tough."

He added: “It’s easy to forget that human contact - even if it is via an electronic device - is part of the healing process. It isn’t just about medicine.”

If you have a message for a loved one, visit