A bride who overcame a stammer to read her vows on her wedding day is now teaching her baby daughter to speak.
Jennifer Vaughan, 29, believed a man would never love her, as she struggled to even say her own name.
But after meeting now husband Ashley Vaughan, at a house party in 2011, she tied the knot – and brought 100 wedding guests to tears when she spoke flawlessly on her big day, following five years of speech therapy lessons.
Now the occupational therapist has told of her joy, after giving birth to 7lb 2oz Edith earlier this month at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough, – and her excitement at being able to teach her to speak.
“For years I never thought I would or could have a baby, as I was so afraid of passing my problems on to them,” she said.
“But having overcome my stammer to read my vows in front of so many people, I know I can teach our little girl her first words too.”
In her personally written vows, in March 2015, Jennifer told husband Ashley, 29: “You are my one true love and I’m so lucky I found you.”
The new mum, of Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, faced playground bullies and felt suicidal during her 18-year battle with the speech problem.
But after meeting kind sales executive Ashley and enrolling on a speech therapy course, she finally said the words she never thought she would: “I do”.
“Getting married was something I always told myself I didn’t want to do. I couldn’t say my own name, how was I meant to say my vows never mind bring up a child?” she said.
“But Ashley convinced me I wanted to get married and I realised I should take the opportunity to stand up in front of all the people I love and give a speech – because I finally could.
“I was more nervous about the speech than actually getting married. But I was so glad I did it. It was something I never even dreamed of.”
Breaking with tradition, by giving a reception speech, Jennifer effortlessly commanded the room, telling jokes and teasing her new husband.
Ashley was brimming with pride during the moving 10-minute address.
He said: “I knew how much speaking in front of everyone on our big day meant to her, so it was amazing to see.”
Jennifer first developed a speech condition aged five, after her parents’ marriage broke down.
During high school she faced bullies who teased her and by the time she reached Teeside University, there were days when she did not even speak for fear of being ridiculed.
Even the simplest tasks, like booking a doctor’s appointment or ordering food in a restaurant, filled her with dread.
Some days she couldn’t say her name and even thought about ending her own life, through frustration.
Jennifer feared her dream of becoming an occupational therapist would fall apart if she didn’t face her speech problem fast.
She tried speech therapies and hypnotherapy, but nothing worked, until her mum Susan Golden, 57, suggested a course in Scotland.
So, in October 2010 she joined the McGuire Programme, which put her on the road to recovery.
Through developing breathing techniques, practicing public speaking and looking at psychological factors over the past five years, the McGuire Programme has transformed Jennifer’s life.
And a year after joining, she met her now-husband, Ashley.
Ironically, they got talking after he started imitating people with stammers – unaware of Jennifer’s struggle with the condition.
But in March 2015 the pair tied the knot at luxurious Rockliffe Hall, near Darlington.
But Jennifer made one promise to herself – she would read her own vows and make a speech at the reception afterwards.
And after her proud mum Susan, a nurse, gave her away, Jennifer faced her fears.
“As the time approached to talk in front of everyone I couldn’t eat and felt so sick… but when I was up there I just felt so happy,” she said.
“All the men were crying! I just felt so proud of myself to be able to do that, to push myself, in front of everyone.”
Talking fluently can still be a challenge for Jennifer, but thanks to the love and support of her husband and help from speech experts, she now relishes chatting to anyone.
And she also wants to help others with speech difficulties, and has trained to become a coach and instructor at the McGuire Programme.
“I used to feel so small, so embarrassed and ashamed. I was an adult and yet I couldn’t even say my own name. It was humiliating,” she said.
“But I’m not scared anymore.”