Former Footballer and legendary sports pundit, Chris Kamara, recently spoke on his diagnosis of apraxia and his eagerness in campaigning for more funding to those with hidden disabilities.  

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists state that around 20 percent of the UK’s population will suffer from speech disorders in their lifetime. With the UK severely trailing behind other countries with funding for speech therapy, ‘Mikey’s Wish’ was set up to ensure this demographic is no longer neglected.  

With public knowledge on this issue very limited, despite the millions affected, Kamara provided his thoughts and how they have changed since his diagnosis.  

“It’s enormous, I didn’t realise – I can’t say ‘normal’ because kids are normal anyway, whether you’ve got apraxia of speech or something wrong with you. 

“Once I developed the condition, like I had, I was surprised and so amazed at the lack of help for hidden disabilities. 

“I am always amazed, when you are in your own little bubble, before I got my condition, you wouldn’t have known these things going on everywhere. But now I am a part of it, I aim to give it my best and hopefully help raise the awareness and by raising the awareness that means the help is more forthcoming.” 

Following on from an amazing career, that saw him play at the top level of English football and become a beloved TV figure with his renowned catchphrase of “Unbelievable Jeff!”, Kammy stepped back from live presenting in 2022, after his speech began to deteriorate.  

Since then, Kammy travelled to Mexico to receive experimental treatment, which was a huge success. However, from this, Kamara became aware of the thousands of children who suffer with apraxia who receive no funding or treatment to support them in acquiring speech.  

As a result, following Apraxia Awareness month, Chris visited an event in Manchester to speak about his journey with the condition, and provided a vital voice in the campaign of increasing funding for speech and language services in the North-West.  

He said: “Well, we have to make the government see that children born with apraxia or people involved in accidents, or a person who has a stroke, or the person who’s got aphasia, ataxia, a stammer, a stutter – any sort of speech problem, they need help. 

“I went to get help, and I got help for my thyroid. I didn’t get any help for my speech at all, I went to go to Mexico for treatment out the country, and I can afford to do that but these children cannot afford that they need the government to look after them and in that way we can make sure they are getting monthly or at worse three-monthly visits to speech and language therapy and it constant throughout their lives.”   

Due to Kamara’s notoriety in TV presenting, he stated that despite his initial worries, broadcasters and co-hosts were very accepting of his condition. This has made him a key spokesperson for people suffering with hidden disabilities and provided representation at the highest level of broadcasting.  

Reflecting on this, Kamara said: “Amazing – Once I came out and revealed my condition, I was so worried before I thought once I told people I can’t speak anymore I would be ostracised and out of it, but it went completely the opposite, you know the best wishes I had, the amount of help I had as well. 

“So that help has put me back to where I am today, so I have got the fluency back in my voice, I just don’t have the speed of old. I’m lucky, there’s always someone worse off than you, even if you think in your head, it’s only happening to you, it’s not there’s so many people worse off.” 

If you want to learn more about the campaign check out Mikey’s Wish: 

Watch the full interview here: