Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown speaks out in bid to help fellow stammerers

Kelly Brown thought he’d conquered his stammer but it came back and tripped him up on one notable occasion during his days as Scotland captain.

Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown is now forwards coach with Glasgow Warriors. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Former Scotland captain Kelly Brown is now forwards coach with Glasgow Warriors. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

“The only time there was a slight issue was in the Six Nations in 2013 and in the last game against France,” he recalled. “I was doing the coin toss and Thierry Dusautoir flipped the coin and I started trying to say ‘heads’, and the coin went up and started coming down.

"Nigel Owens was the ref and the coin actually bounced and I hadn’t called. I think it was the only time in Six Nations history that they’ve had to do the coin toss twice. And when I called ‘heads’ the second time, guess that it was? It was tails – of course it was. And I can say ‘tails’, but anyway…”

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Brown, now forwards coach with Glasgow Warriors, worked incredibly hard to overcome his stammer and was able to fulfil all the duties that came with the Scotland captaincy such as delivering team-talks, speaking at dinners and giving live TV interviews. He speaks about past problems with good humour but recognises how debilitating it can be.

Thursday was International Stammer Awareness Day and Brown has just become the patron of the British Stammering Association.

“With Covid, a lot of people are struggling, and I feel that I owe it to myself to speak out and I owe it to others to try and help and encourage them,” he said.

Brown overcame his stammer by enrolling in the McGuire Programme, an intensive four-day course which is run by stammerers for stammerers.

He says a major part of it was “assertive self-acceptance”.

“You do things like going out onto a busy shopping street on day two and you have to speak to 100 strangers in three hours, which is very uncomfortable if you are a so-called fluent speaker, but it is all about accepting and being assertive with it.”

Brown says he now feels in charge of his own future and wants others to feel the same way.

“We want to encourage stammerers to accept it as a part of themselves because it wasn’t until I actually did that that I was able to start controlling it.”

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