Sir Jackie Stewart, 84, will be at Silverstone for British GP despite suffering stroke last month – Maxsports
May 14, 2024

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Sir Jackie Stewart, 84, will be at Silverstone for British GP despite suffering stroke last month

That one-man dynamo Sir Jackie Stewart is back at his desk on his Buckinghamshire estate conducting his affairs in the same perfectionist way he always has.

But five weeks ago, Mail Sport can reveal, the Formula One legend was lying unconscious on the floor of his hotel room in Jordan, where he was attending the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein, eldest son of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, to Rajwa Al Saif. It transpired that the 84-year-old had suffered a mini-stroke.

‘This was the night before the wedding,’ recalls Stewart, who is now busy again pursuing his Race Against Dementia campaign. ‘I got up in the night feeling strange. I just dropped. And then I can’t remember. I was unconscious for quite a long time.

‘I was taken to hospital in Jordan. My son Paul and his wife were there for the wedding, in a bedroom on a different floor. To this day I don’t know how I got to Paul’s room, but I must have been somewhat alert to get hold of him.

‘They got me into an ambulance, but I have no recall of that either. His Majesty got the best doctors available for me. I wanted to get home as fast as possible, and the Crown Prince of Bahrain very generously gave his aircraft to fly me back to Europe. By then I was pretty much OK. I wasn’t walking very well though.’

Sir Jackie Stewart (centre) is on the road to recovery after suffering a stroke while out in Jordan last month

Sir Jackie Stewart (centre) is on the road to recovery after suffering a stroke while out in Jordan last month

The F1 legend, 84, insists he will be at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend

The F1 legend, 84, insists he will be at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend

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Stewart has maintained a packed diary of engagements since his retirement as triple and reigning world champion in 1973, and still regularly travels to grands prix as an ambassador for Rolex and Heineken. He splits his time between his four-storey apartment in Geneva and his home that adjoins Chequers.

Stewart thinks his unremitting travel schedule may have contributed to the mini-stroke. He returned to Britain after the Monaco Grand Prix on May 28 to speak at the funeral of Annie Meldrum — wife of the late Queen’s headkeeper at Sandringham — before flying off to Jordan on June 1.

‘I was very ill by the time of Annie’s funeral,’ says Stewart. ‘I spoke, but not as well as I should have done. I followed that with one night in Geneva and then went on to Jordan. And all that was after being in Miami for a very busy grand prix not long before. It all added up.

‘I am now doing a lot of physiotherapy and I can walk almost completely perfectly. Everything’s going well — I am going to Silverstone for two days this weekend.’

Alas, Sir Jackie is due to travel there without his wife of nearly 61 years. Lady Helen is suffering from frontotemporal dementia, diagnosed in 2016. A team of seven neuroscience nurses care for her around the clock.

Her plight stirred Sir Jackie into what he called the biggest fight of his life: he established Race Against Dementia, a charity intended to fund research into finding a cure. He brings to the task the same gusto he brought to transforming safety in Formula One as a campaigning world champion.

‘Nobody has yet found a cure for dementia, which seems ridiculous,’ he says. ‘In 70 years, there is nothing from the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical industry that has produced benefits, big or small. More people die of dementia than any other illness in the world.

‘When I started Race Against Dementia in 2018, my goal was to allow people to live a normal life.

‘Helen was my timekeeper and my lap-charter. Sharp as a needle. A remarkable lady. Fortunately, I can afford to keep Helen at home but not everyone is so lucky.’

Stewart has backed Red Bull ace Max Verstappen to continue his dominance this weekend

Stewart has backed Red Bull ace Max Verstappen to continue his dominance this weekend

Race Against Dementia is funding PhD students, Stewart having despaired of the medical establishment and instead turned to the nurturing of young talent.

‘I am trying to bring some of the Formula One ethos to how we do things,’ he explains. ‘Formula One is a fast-paced world. Development is achieved in two weeks between races, and this is the kind of energy that is needed in the field of dementia.’

As for his British Grand Prix prediction, he doesn’t need to be Nostradamus.

‘The combination of the Dutchman and Milton Keynes,’ he says, alluding to Max Verstappen and Red Bull. ‘Max is a remarkably talented man, and he hasn’t gone astray. He is a wonderful ambassador for our sport.’

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