Doncaster stroke survivor shares fitness journey to support others’ recovery

Published on: July 10th 2023

When retired police officer, Steve Naylor, went for his regular morning workout, the last thing he expected was to end up in hospital following a stroke. 

Now, almost a year on, Steve, 57, who lives in Balby, credits his love of exercise in helping him recover both physically and mentally from the unexpected events that ‘completely knocked him back’ and left him needing surgery to remove two blood clots.

On Friday 23 September 2022, Steve, who is a member of Fitness Village, Balby, went to the gym for his usual morning workout when he was suddenly unable to get up from the equipment. His friend, Ricky, was quick to notice something wasn’t right. 

Steve said: “It was fortunate that I was in the gym and there with my friend. It was Ricky who really noticed something was wrong. He could see that my face had dropped, and he shouted down to one of the staff to get an ambulance.”

Within an hour, Steve had been taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, where he was given a clot-busting drug, then transferred to Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. Here, he went into theatre for a mechanical thrombectomy to remove two clots – one from his neck and one from his brain. 

Steve said: “I was one of the lucky ones, within the hour I was pretty much sorted. But I had no feeling down the left side of my body at all. I couldn’t lift my arm or raise my leg. I was out of hospital three days later and I was determined that I wasn’t going to let it beat me.”

Steve received support from the Stroke Association and also credits the ‘amazing staff’ at Fitness Village, Balby, for their help during his rehabilitation.

“Working out has not only kept me fit but has helped me keep my mind active too,” Steve said. 

“Balby is close to where I live and has everything I need for my fitness. I love it, the staff are amazing. They are very supportive – they are always coming and checking on us and offering help.

“Since having the stroke, I haven’t been able to push the heavy weights I used to but coming to the gym and maintaining muscle mass has been very important to me. It helps me to focus my mind and de-stress.”

Having recently completed 31 minutes of exercise every day in May as part of a fundraising challenge for the Stroke Association, Steve has this message for anyone else who has experienced a stroke: “The best thing you can do is remain positive. It will have a massive impact on your life – I still feel tired even now and there’s days when I don’t want to do anything – but it’s those days you have to get up and push yourself to be active, even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day.”

Chris Wright, head of health and leisure at Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust, which runs Fitness Village, Balby, said: “Steve is an inspiration. The way he was determined to return to exercise and use activity to help him recover is really impressive. 

“We’re proud to have Steve as one of our members and I’m grateful to our brilliant team at Balby that has supported him since his stroke. 

“Fitness is for everyone, and this is a brilliant example of how keeping active can have benefits for your mind and body, even when you’re overcoming personal physical or mental challenges. The team at Fitness Village is always ready to help you achieve your health and fitness goals, whatever they may be.”

For more information visit: