WHENEVER Amraiz Khan was asked to read at school, fear would take hold.

"I would hit the table and grip my knees. By the time I was done reading, the book would need ironing to be back to its original state," says Amraiz, 20. "I have lived most of my life being shy, avoiding situations. I would rather be seen as rude or stupid to hide the fact that I couldn’t pronounce some words. My stammer was severe. I learned new tricks just to say what I needed to say. My childhood wasn't the easiest."

Anyone who has struggled with a stammer will be familiar with Amraiz's experiences. Having to deal with speech problems throughout his childhood and adolescence hit his confidence hard. "Every day was a challenge," he says.

But now, having completed a speech course in just four days, Amraiz has learned a new breathing technique and other ways of controlling his stammer. "I have finally found my voice," he says.

According to the British Stammering Association, one per cent of the adult population stammers, and around 80 per cent are men. Stammering varies from person to person, but often involves repeating or prolonging sounds or words.

"Some people pronounce just one letter, others stretch out a sound in a word, or repeat a syllable," says Amraiz, from Bradford Moor. "I have lived with a stammer as long as I can remember. Going to secondary school was a huge challenge, as I was going to meet new people and I didn't want my stammer to define me. I went through speech therapy at a young age but it made no difference. By the time I'd gone through my teens I was ready to give up."

It was his business teacher, Kasim Hafesji, at Carlton Bolling College, who suggested the McGuire Programme. "He helped me with presentations and motivated and supported me all the way. He found it and I was booked on a course in Doncaster," says Amraiz, who undertook a four-day intensive speech therapy course, learning various techniques.

"I booked onto the programme on August 23, 2017 - a date I will not forget," he says. "I worked hard 13 hours a day and, with enormous dedication, finally learned to control my stutter. I learned a brand new breathing technique and addressed various psychological dimensions of speech.

"Now I am finally the person I’ve always wanted to be. Some highlights on the course included a public speech in Doncaster town centre. I approached 100 strangers, using my new breathing technique, letting people know I had a stutter but I was in control of it. It has totally changed my life. It's been a tremendous journey."

Amraiz has been working on his speech since completing the programme. "Every day I put myself in challenging situations; I am a person who stammers but I'm in control of my stammer, using the techniques. This can include disclosing to people that I am a person working on my speech."

He adds: "I still struggle time to time. Some days are worse than others. There's no cure, but the support of friends, some of who stammer too, keeps me strong. I’m constantly trying to be more eloquent. I used to feel trapped inside a different person, but not anymore."

Now Amraiz is studying Advertising and Marketing Communication at the University of Huddersfield and is a student ambassador and events and promotion assistant at the Student Union. "My highlight was when I ran for Student Union President; a three-day campaign talking to hundreds of students and giving a talk on my manifesto to an audience of over 300. I came second, it's an achievement I'm very proud of," says Amraiz. "I'm securing an internship in marketing, which before would have been impossible, as interviews were my downfall."

Amraiz is also working on a project called #BoyWithAStammer to increase awareness and share his experiences through self-confidence and self-development videos online. "I want to create a cacophony of noise and show that if you work hard enough you can achieve whatever you want," he says.

"I have fought my stammer all my life and used to think it was my worst enemy. Now I have made friends with this 'shadow' and see that I was my own worst enemy.

"I am now immensely proud to be a person who stammers. It has taught me patience, it has guided me to listen and take in what people are saying and respond with empathy and honesty."

* Visit mcguireprogramme.com