The role Holyoake played in my life many years ago is unforgettable.

Rewind to around when I was 12 years old. I became aware that my parents had a problem with alcohol. I remember being in the front seat of the car while my dad swerved back and forth on the road. Later that night whilst intoxicated he tried to commit suicide.

My mum became a very heavy drinker and also used to take sleeping tablets. As I got older, I couldn’t trust her, could never hope that she could remain sober at any event.

I moved out of home at 17, and had my first son at 20. When he was a few weeks old, I went to see if mum was on a day off from work. I was shocked to find her completely drunk and asleep on the couch. I told her she would be dead and her grandson would never know her. She stood up, staggered off to bed and said she “will never drink again”.

She didn’t. She went to Holyoake for counselling.

I asked her recently what was it about Holyoake that helped her remain sober. She said it was the counsellor – ever patient, kind and understanding.

Not only did mum stop drinking alcohol, she quit smoking as well. On reflection I see my mum as a woman who had an alcohol problem which I absolutely detested. However, she was my mum and she loved me and my brother very much. We never wanted for anything (except for her to stop drinking). My mum has a full and active life now and spends many hours with her grandchildren.

I am so grateful she became sober. Alcohol dependence and the effects on a family never go away. Holyoake helped saved my mum’s life and in the process gave us back the mother that alcohol took away from us for so many years. How amazing is that?

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