How Norwich clinic helped Laura tackle her eating disorder

A teenager has told how a Norwich clinic helped her to recover from an eating disorder and says she hopes her story can give hope to other sufferers during Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Laura Waddams leaves Norwich's Newmarket House Clinic this week, and the 19-year-old said she now felt confident enough to speak out about her experience and hopes it will help other people with eating disorders.

Laura's tale comes as the father of A-level student Charlotte Robinson said he believed positive changes had been made since her death from the illness in 2007.

Chris Robinson, from Worstead, near North Walsham, said he had battled to get the improvements and that a new Community Eating Disorder Service (CEDS) should help to improve care for people with the illness. He said: 'In the past there was an incompetent and inefficient system in place which was unable to cater for people who were ill with eating disorders. That now should be ideally fixed.

'We now want to raise awareness of the fact there is a new service in place and people need to to use it.'

Susan Ringwood, chief executive of Norwich-based national eating disorders charity Beat, said: 'It has set an example and standard, and elsewhere in the country other health authorities have now seen what's happening in Norfolk and are interested in doing something similar.

'It probably wouldn't have happened without the Robinsons, but that shouldn't be what it takes to get the kind of support and treatment patients need to have.'

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However, the introduction of the new community service means local charity the Norfolk Eating Disorders Association faces losing a lot of its funding.

It is still in negotiations with regard to funding, but the future is very uncertain for this organisation, which is based in Colegate in Norwich. In Laura's case, she needed to be admitted to the Newmarket Road-based, Newmarket House clinic.

A very unsettled childhood, a turbulent relationship with her parents, family issues, coupled with her already low self-esteem and shyness were at the root of her illness.

She says: 'I thought the only way to control my own life would be to restrict what I ate.

'At first I thought perhaps I would lose some weight and feel better about myself. I was in a very dark place and losing a lot of weight. I was pretty much not eating during the day, walking for hours on end. When I got home I would binge and make myself sick a number of times. I was hooked on laxatives and taking about 20 a day.'

She was referred to Newmarket House last year, with her body mass index dropping below 14 at one point. She says: 'Because of how my life was they thought the caring feel of this place would get my life back on track and I would have support from people who would nuture me.

'They have helped me get my life back, find myself and create a whole new me.'

For further information, log on to, or call the helpline on 0300 300 0115.

Have you received vital help to overcome a serious illness? Call reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email