A PENSIONER who suffers from a rare condition has thanked a therapist who helped her regain confidence.

Joy Alexander, 74, was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2014, making it difficult for her to eat and drink, affecting her speech and appearance in the left side of her face.

After taking advice and trying exercises, she could not find treatment for the condition.

"I couldn't see that it was ever going to get better," said Joy, a former IT teacher at SGS College who lives in Quedgeley.

"When I was on the bus, children would look at my face intrigued because I looked different.

"I would try to smile but because of the condition it would look like a grimace and something grotesque.

"My face would not send out the message I was trying to give out.

"I looked angry when I was trying to smile."

The condition affected her balance and meant she could not close one of her eyes.

Her cheek and mouth were also affected and partly paralysed.

She had to use a straw to drink and her speech was slurred.

The symptoms are similar to having a stroke," she said.

"I found it difficult to meet up and socialise with people.

"It makes you become quite depressed about yourself."

Joy started acupuncture and massage treatment at Stonehouse Holistic Centre in December.

A friend suggested she try the treatment when she was in Stonehouse for a dentist's appointment.

Since then she attended 15 sessions with therapist Christopher Handbury.

"It has helped me so much," she said.

"I am 99 per cent of the way there and have regained a lot of confidence.

"There is no price you can put on it. If I won the lottery I would give him £4 million.

"I feel so much better."

During her last class, Joy presented a card and £40 cash to Mr Handbury as a gesture of thanks.

Mr Handbury has offered all of his April classes on Friday mornings free of charge to pass on the kind-hearted thought.

A free class will be held on April 29 from 10am to 10.45am at Stonehouse Community Centre in Laburnham walk.

Call the Stonehouse Holistic Centre on 01453 828000 to find out more.