Stammer, my forever friend

A man looking in the camera, with an inset of a boy holding a cuddly toy
Tim now and as a wrestling-mad boy

Tim Crouch tells us how stammering has a been a constant in his life from school to stints in the Royal Marines, Police and the corporate world, and how pushing himself to speak gave him confidence.

It was 1989. I was a little boy from Dartford, Kent who had developed a stammer. I cannot remember with any certainty what it felt like back then. But I do remember my mum telling me that I was the luckiest boy alive because I was gifted with a forever friend whose name was Stammer. Sadly, what the world (mainly people) had in store for me was far less friendly than my new pal.

Primary school was fine enough children are more accepting at that age. They liked my friend Stammer. As I moved into secondary school, though, it turned out that other children there didn't have such vivid imaginations. And here the bullying started.

I won't go into the details of the bullying, but the negative emotions and feelings I can recall vividly. In the beginning, I was bright as a button. But soon the brightness dimmed as the teasing started. My confidence eroded fast as I went from being the loudest to the quietest. 

My confidence eroded fast as I went from being the loudest to the quietest. 

All my peers were into American wrestling at the time. I loved it so much but didn't dare try and talk to them about it for fear of stammering and being humiliated. So I stayed quiet and only engaged in activities that didn't involve speaking. I felt isolated and alone. 

Due to my quietness, my academic performance suffered and at 16 I was forced into my first job due to not being one of the clever ones. I was clever... but didn't have the confidence to show the world.

Eventually at 20, I decided to join the Royal Marines. I wanted to push myself and the promise of a changed state of mind attracted me. However, this was short-lived and was not the right fit for me. 

Pushing myself

My entire adult life I have consistently refused therapy. Therapists these days are fantastic but I wanted to achieve it alone. I decided to push myself everyday, actively thrusting myself into situations that made me speak openly and publicly. I knew that if I carried on avoiding speaking situations that made me feel uncomfortable and blending into the background, things would never change.

I tirelessly worked on the speed in which I spoke. I slowed it down and my speech become a little clearer and more measured. I would speak with precision to my friend Stammer whilst looking the mirror. As I started to feel more in control, I become less conscious and more confident. A big turning point was when I could have a full conversation without people finishing my damn sentence for me.

I started life as the loudest, became the quietest... now I'm back and determined to let my voice be heard!

After leaving the Royal Marines I decided to join the Metropolitan Police. By then I wasn't stammering that much and felt confident to speak to people in everyday situations. However, the real test was during high stress situations. As my stress levels rose, back again appeared my friend Stammer. Trying to memorise the police caution and say it during an arrest was not easy. But I did it. I was growing as a person, as a man. 

After my time in service, I left for the corporate world and worked my way up to Senior Operations Manager. This was just as difficult as being in the Police. I was now required to attend regular meetings with clients and the UK Managing Director. The overwhelming anxiety would always appear again (along with Stammer) and I had to fight to be heard clearly in a sea of egos in the company boardroom. The struggle never leaves me.

Empowering others

No longer in the corporate world, I am now a confidence coach helping to empower others to take back control of their lives. I have spoken publicly about my experience and I hope I can help others. I started life as the loudest, became the quietest... now I'm back and determined to let my voice be heard!

You may have felt the emotions I have described in your daily life, either at school or in the workplace. You may have to think a bit longer about your words and choose them carefully. But that's a gift. If everyone thought more before opening their mouths the world would be a greater place!

So, me and my forever friend Stammer are together for life. He is a little smaller than he used to be and I'm a little bigger. But he has been a true friend to me my entire life. The only thing that's been consistent and always there with me. And I love him. From the bottom of my heart dear friend. Thank You, Stammer x.

If you would like to contact Tim, email us at and we will pass your message on.

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Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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