'I hope my story can help save a life'
- Credit: Joe Preston
My journey to the car park was a silent one, although in the background my phone was constantly ringing with an annoying persistence.
'Leave me alone, let me be, let me find peace, I deserve that at least, don’t I?'
That was my selfish voice of despair. These were not the thoughts of a well-balanced human being, but a broken man. A man who had planned to arrive at a point on a Sunday afternoon when the town centre would be empty, with less chance of being seen and having any interruptions.
In my bag next to me on the bus seat was my little Burberry bag. A reminder of how life in the past had been a little more successful.
Its contents - a pressed pair of tailored shorts, polished loafers and a crisp white polo shirt. I had packed a bag so I knew when I had found my peace, I would be wearing what I felt most comfortable in and at my happiest.
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Thankfully none of the above was meant to be. As the bus pulled up, I looked at my phone and the police were calling. They began talking, reassuring me I wasn’t in trouble and that they just wanted to know I was safe. What I didn’t realise was my friends were on the beach looking for me (as I had left a post on twitter misleading them to my intentions).
But that is where this story will end. I was finally found and taken by police to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn where I was seen by the mental health crisis team, and realised that very evening, after what felt like the longest night ever, something had to change.
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Finding my own peace was not the answer I was searching for. Instead, I began to learn how to live with all that could not change, putting the past behind me.
As ever, Hospitality Action was and has been by my side since I listened to the advice given, and in turn they listened to the tears in my voice as I slowly poured out my soul.
That’s when the magic began, that’s when my life changed. Just realising that what had happened to me was not my fault. It was a chance to lay down new foundations.
Life is still a struggle and it’s not the easiest road, but I am now also free from the grasp of cancer (although that’s for another story), and I have the help of 'my saving grace' (a close-knit group of friends) who did for me, exactly what is says on the tin.
Now I am chef patron of that very same hospital in Kings Lynn which I visited in my darkest time, an ambassador of Hospitality Action, and patron of TACT. In all three roles I am so very proud to be able to give back just a little.
I am just one of thousands of examples of how Hospitality Action has helped change lives within our land.
I've spoken to so many folk within our industry over the past three years, from one family not able to bury their son due to financial reasons, to another chef who was dealing with life after a stroke, to a restaurant manager who was being bullied within her workplace - sadly the list is endless.
But this is where Hospitality Action, wherever you might be, can help. This is why, on Saturday, September 18, we will be standing shoulder to shoulder. Showing the strength from within an industry that during the past 19 months, has faced every mountain and found the resilience not only to keep climbing but to make sure every family member was still by our side.
Because at the core of all we do we are a team, and more importantly a family.
I guess for me the most important part to remember is this, whatever you might facing don’t face it alone simply because 'we've got you'. That's the simple message from Hospitality Action and the other charities involved in the campaign.
We need your support to more than ever before.