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Right Side of the Brain

Author: Nirjay Mahindru

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An Arts, Health and Culture podcast created by InterAct Stroke Support interviewing a variety of guests from the Arts and Health fields, who talk about their life, work and sometimes the big ideas and issues of the day. Our podcasts hosts are Nirjay Mahindru and Megan McKie Smith.
25 Episodes
Peter G Levine is a researcher, author, clinician, professor and science communicator, dedicated to finding and reporting on the best systems for driving post-stroke brain plasticity. Pete has been at the forefront of testing many of the most innovative stroke neuro-rehab options including EMG-based gaming, wearable robotics, mental practice, functional E-Stim, transcranial magnetic stimulation and modified constraint-induced therapy (mCIT). He was the lab co-director at the U. of Cincinnati Academic Medical Center, and a Research Associate at the Kessler Institute. His clinical research continued with The OSU B.R.A.I.N. lab. Pete communicates what he's learned in research through his blog, dozens of magazine and articles, hundreds of professional talks, and his book, Stronger After Stroke.You can find his blog here.Explore his research here and you can listen to his own podcast here.Support the show (
Artist Joanna Brendon in conversation with Nirjay Mahindru.  Joanna Brendon is probably best known for being the first Director of the concert hall, St John’s Smith Square ( Throughout her career, she has been involved with funding for the arts, working with the Royal Opera House, Royal Academy of Dancing, the Spanish Arts Festival and Sadler’s Wells.In 2005, she gained a MA at Brighton University, her thesis being “Do Visual Artists Need To See? – Exploring Alternative Perceptions” as a way of confronting her own diminishing sight prior to a life-changing operation. Two prints from her Sightlines series are in the V&A Print Collection. The thesis can be found online.She has been Artist in Residence at Brantwood, John Ruskin’s home in the Lake District, where she had a solo exhibition. In 2011, she had an exhibition at the Holywell Music Room, to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Oxford Lieder Festival, and in 2013, she had a show at The Orange Tree Theatre.  Her work is represented in private collections in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. She lives and works in London where she regularly exhibits and holdsopen studios.For ten years Joanna was Chair of Artists at Home. She is still closely involved,but has stepped back since developing an auto-immune disease.  “With a landscape subject matter that is often intensely familiar to her, Joanna Brendon’s bold, abstracting way of working creates paintings rich in dramatic feeling and entirely mysterious in character”Nicholas UsherwoodIt was through art that Joanna met the founder of InterAct Stroke Support, Caroline Smith, and she has been a committed supporter from the outset.If you would like to join her mailing list, please write to her atemail: jbrendon@me.comwebsite: Support the show (
Sas Freeman was living the fairytale dream as a model, a television and film actress – which all came to an end overnight. Life changed drastically for the 45-year-old as the result of not one, but two back-to-back strokes  .After experiencing two strokes in her mid-40s, Sas has become an impassioned advocate for increasing stroke awareness and supporting fellow stroke survivors and their care partners.  She is the author of Two strokes not out.  Sas previously worked as a photographic model and on television. She appeared in films and as a double for Emma Thompson in Brideshead Revisited. Alongside, she managed teams for companies delivering advertising material for national organisations, client facing where necessary, pitching campaigns.She is now an artist using her non-dominant hand following her strokes.  Her website is This interview was recorded during the period of the lockdown.Support the show (
Michelle Iglesias began her painting journey in 2004 after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31, which lead her to discovering the therapeutic value of creating art. She has since been exhibiting her paintings nationally and continues to develop her inherent skills in order to produce art of the finest quality. Much of her work consists of natural elements, including water and nature. She specializes in acrylic and oil paintings on canvas, with inspirations coming from nature, dimensions, and individuals struck by cancer. Michelle’s paintings invite viewer involvement and have been described as profound, reflective, symbolic images of an uncompromising realm.Michelle has a hugely successful Youtube channelYou can follow Michelle on Patreon You can also see her great art via her websiteSupport the show (
Nirjay Mahindru in conversation with Steph Harland, the CEO of Age UK.   Steph has been CEO of Age UK since January 2018.  She joined one of our predecessor organisations, Age Concern England, in 2002.  Before that Steph had worked in the voluntary sector locally, nationally and internationally mainly on issues to do with older people and other groups of adults with care needs. She first became involved with Age Concern in the late 1980s as a volunteer for Age Concern Greenwich.   Steph was closely involved in the creation of Age UK in 2009.  Since then, Steph has had a number of different roles at Age UK, focusing on our international work, strategy, partnership with the Age UK network, people and performance, and governance, becoming Deputy CEO in 2016. Steph is also the Chairman of Cecily's Fund, a UK charity supporting orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia.Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru and Megan Mckie Smith in conversation with stroke consultant Amith Sitaram, stroke consultant at Glasgow Queen Elizabeth hospital.  Amith is an experienced Stroke Clinician and researcher with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Imaging Research, Clinical Research, Medicine, Healthcare, and Neuroscience. Strong Clinical and research background with a focus in Improving Stroke Care. Has had the pleasure to work with the best in the field in the University of Zurich, University of Calgary and University of Glasgow.This interview was recorded during the period of the lockdown.Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru talks to Norfolk based artist Lynn Rutherford about her life, her stroke and her art.  Lynn suffered a major stroke in 2018 and hospital staff were convinced she wouldn't pull through.  Lynn retired from a life time working with children and young people. Art has always been important at work and for leisure.Lynn remembers nothing about her stroke. She knows that it was the kindness and professionalism of strangers which meant she survived. Lynn says "Friends and family are very important, as is experiencing nature. Having a lovely dog means I'm out in it every day, whatever the weather!"Lindsay, who wrote Charlie the Horse, has been a good friend for a long time. She has got me roped in to various creative projects! Drawing for her book, undoubtedly speeded up my recovery. This interview was recorded during the lockdown.Support the show (
Trevor Phillips OBE ARCS FIC is a British writer, broadcaster and former politician. In March 2015, Phillips was appointed as the President of the Partnership Council of the John Lewis Partnership for a three-year term. His is the first external appointment since 1928.Phillips is deputy chairman of the board of the National Equality Standard, and other business appointments include chairman of Green Park Diversity Analytics, director of WebberPhillips, a data analytics provider; and director of Pepper Productions, an independent television production company. He is a member of the board of the Barbican Arts Centre and the Council of Aldeburgh Music; and a trustee of the Social Mobility Foundation, among other charities.Phillips is a former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and a former television presenter and executive.Phillips became head of the Commission for Racial Equality in 2003, and on its abolition in 2006 was appointed full-time chairman of its successor, the EHRC (initially called the Commission for Equality and Human Rights), which had a broader remit of combating discrimination and promoting equality across other grounds (age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment).[3] The EHRC also had the role of promoting and defending human rights, and secured recognition as the national human rights institution for England and Wales (alongside separate commissions in Northern Ireland and Scotland). Phillips' tenure as EHRC chairman (which at his request became a part-time position in 2009) has at times been controversial.This interview was recorded during the period of the lockdown.Support the show (
Waris Islam is an award-winning writer director with network credits in film, television and radio.He also practices as a Consultant on projects developing training courses, overseas and in the UK. He has written for BBC Radio drama, directed award winning short films 'Short' and 'The Family Portrait' and written a 'Coming Up' for Channel 4. Waris has alsodirected episodes of Hollyoaks, Eastenders, Holby City and creator, series writer and director for BISHAASH. He is on the BBC Hotlist for 2017 and preparing for his first feature film. Waris is represented by Elinor Burns from Casarotto Ramsay in the UK andEric Williams from Zero Gravity Management in L.A the show (
Lucy Smith spent 20 years working in the film industry before moving to the voluntary sector.  She is currently the philanthropy officer at Leonard Cheshire disability.  Lucy was integral to the creative collaboration between InterAct and Leonard Cheshire culminating in the creation of a radio play.  This interview was recorded during the period of the lockdown.  For more information on Leonard Cheshire, ‎Support the show (
Megan Mckie Smith in conversation with the Chief Executive of Different Strokes, the charity dedicated to helping younger stroke surviviors.  For more details of the work of Different Strokes, please visit Support the show (
Megan McKie Smith in conversation with actor and theatre director Ian Talbot.  For 20 years Ian was Artistic Director of the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, where he directed a few of his own musical hits over the years at the Open Air – High Society and The Boy Friend being examples and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director for his production of The Pirates Of Penzance.  Ian was awarded an OBE in 2008 for his services to Drama.  He is also the Chairman of trustees of InterAct Stroke Support.Ian's latest work is Jack and the Beanstalk, a pantomime available online.  The production runs from December 4th 2020 to 10th January 2021, and tickets are available at  Support the show (
Two guests in this podcast.  Hayley Youell of the Culture Health and Wellbeing alliance and Kiz Bangerh founder of Hip Hop Heals, both in conversation with Nirjay Mahindru.  Catch the latest events that will be occuring via the Alliance.  Details for the alliance can be found Hip Hop Heals and Kiz's work, more details can be found at: the show (
Nirjay Mahindru is joined by Che Walker.Che Walker studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and has worked with Edward Bond, Philip Ridley, Mark Ravenhill, Stellan Skarsgaard, Chris Penn and Robert David Mc Donald.His first play BEEN SO LONG premiered at the Royal Court theatre in 1998, starring Sophie Okonedo, and was runner-up for The John Whiting Award and the Meyer-Whitworth Award, and has subsequently been translated and produced worldwide.FLESHWOUND premiered at the Royal Court in 2003 and won the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, and The Arts Council Young Writer of the Future Award.CRAZY LOVE was produced by Paines Plough theatre company ('a brilliant piece of dramatic poetry- the scotsman" 'brilliantly buzzy..poignant'- the guardian) and, along with it's sister piece, BURNT-UP LOVE,  won the Mark Marvin Peter Brook Award.In 2008, his play THE FRONTLINE made English Theatre history ,becoming the first contemporary-set new play to perform at Shakespeare's Globe theatre since MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. An enormous critical success, THE FRONTLINE was revived in 2009.His musical adaptation of his first play 'Been So Long' - a collaboration with composer Arthur Darvill, premiered at The Young Vic Theatre in 2009, before playing The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, and Latitude Rock Festival. 'Been So Long' was nominated for the Evening Standard Best Musical Award. Walker's former student, Naana Agyei-Ampadu was also nominated for Best Newcomer for her role as Yvonne in 'Been So Long'.He has received commissions from Regent's Park Theatre, English Touring Theatre  amongst others.  As he teacher, Che has taught acting at RADA, Arts Ed, E15, and has taught at Central, Oxford, Identity Drama School, and was Head of Drama for the Weekend Arts College for over ten years.  This interview was recorded in June 2020 during the period of the lockdown.  Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru in conversation with Juliet Bouverie, COE of the Stroke Association.  Juliet has been chief executive of the Stroke Association since June 2016.Prior to joining the Stroke Association,  Juliet worked at Macmillan Cancer Support for 16 years in roles including head of planning and policy, director of corporate development and executive director of services and influencing.In this last role, she led a staff team of over 800 people, managed a budget of £150m and oversaw a programme of award-winning innovations and service design across the UK. She also secured important government commitments to improve patient experience and post-treatment support through the 2015 Cancer Strategy for England.Prior to Macmillan, Juliet worked at the British Red Cross in strategy and service evaluation, the Community Development Foundation in fundraising and a political consultancy. She was a trustee of the Long-Term Conditions Alliance and chaired the Cancer Patient Experience Board for University College London Hospital (UCLH) from 2011 to 2014.Juliet has a degree in modern languages from Oxford .  This interview was recorded in June 2020 during the period of the lockdown.Support the show (
Megan McKie Smith in conversation with former yoga teacher Francis D'Angel about his life, and the circumstances of his stroke.  Francis is a regular attendee of Leonard Cheshire disablity in Wandsworth, an organisation InterAct has been working with.  Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru talks to stand up comedian Maureen Younger about her life and career.Maureen is a tri-lingual London Scot, she’s frank, fast, feisty, sharp, engaging – honest humour with attitude!Gigs include: Hackney Empire, The Stand, Hampstead Comedy Club, Upfront Comedy, Glee Club, Amused Moose Soho, Comedy Camp, Comedy Store, Up the Creek, Bearcat Comedy Club, Underbelly, Komedia, Frog & Bucket, Downstairs at the King’s Head, Arthur Smith’s Cut Price Comedy Night, Comedy Café, Laughing Cows, Hampstead Theatre, BrouHaHa, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Buzz Comedy, Monkey Business, Joogleberry Playhouse, Retort Cabaret ShowInternational GigsBerlin: Comedy Club Kookaburra & BeatStreet (in English); Stage-Diven & Scheinbar (in German)Radio/TVNewspaper reviewer on Sky NewsRegular guest panellist on BBC Radio London & BBC Radio 5 Live.Newspaper Reviewer on the Biggins & Lesley Show, BBC Radio London.Presented an 80s soul show on Break FM.Roles in Band of Brothers (BBC/HBO), The Affair (black & white silent comedy). Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru talks to Nick Ede about his life and work.   Nick has over 20 years of experience in PR and brand development and spent 15 years as Creative Director of EdenCancan PR in London. During those years he was lucky enough to develop strategic PR campaigns for brands including, Puma, Channel Four, MTV, Spanx, Lipsy London, BBC Children In Need, Fox, News UK, little Mistress, Ultimo, Ariella Couture, Upper Street Shoes, Comedy Central and Organic Surge. During that time he also carved out a successful TV career presenting regularly on Lorraine on ITV, GMTV, OKTV, Sky One and landing the recurring judging role on the International hit show, Project Catwalk. In the past 2 years his interest in charity PR and branding has led him to leave EdenCancan and launch EastofEden London. Since launch they have worked with many charities and brands on their CSR including Liberty, BBC Children In Need, WE Day, Serious Fun Camps, The Global Gift Gala, Eva Longoria Foundation, The Stroke Association, Pink Ribbon Foundation, British Asian Trust, MTV Staying Alive, Rwanga and many more.In 2017 he launched the Style for Stroke Foundation which will raise money and awareness for stroke worldwide.While his main focus is on charity campaigns he loves consumer PR. In 2019 he acquired his former agency, Eden Cancan to deliver strategic PR, event management and celebrity booking for clients in the lifestyle arena.  This interview was recorded in May 2020 during the lockdown period.  Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru talks to former nurse Lyndsey Dowding about her life, working in the NHS as a nurse for many years, her stroke, and the publication of her book "Charlie the Horse, Owl, and the Planning Application".  This interview was recorded in May 2020 during the lockdown period.  Lindsay Dowding  worked at the NNUH for 13 years, was taking part in a workshop in Pottergate in Norwich when she suffered a stroke. She was rushed to the very hospital she worked at.  Support the show (
Nirjay Mahindru in conversation with Barry Macaulay, talking all things Stroke in relation to Northern Ireland.  Recently, Barry received a BEM in recognition of his commitment to Disability Sports. The medal recognises the positive contribution that Barry has made to the disability sports sector in Northern Ireland over a period of 27 years. Barry’s passion and dedication has made a significant impact, providing lots of new opportunities for people with a disability to get involved in sports. Barry has also provided strong strategic input for strengthening Disability Sport NI and other disability sports organisations and clubs, as well as advising on policy affecting the provision of disability sports in Northern Ireland.  This interview was conducted during the period of the lockdown.Support the show (
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