Bury St Edmunds: Team to take on London to Brighton bike ride for Focus12

TRUSTEES, staff, supporters and former clients of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity have joined forces to raise much-needed funds for the service.

A team of 14 are now training ahead of the 54-mile London to Brighton Cycle Ride on September 16 to support Focus12, which is based in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.

Former clients Clair Walters and Richard Fitzsimons spoke about why the charity - whose patrons include Russell Brand and Davina McCall - is such a great cause to support.

Miss Walters, whose sons Mykey Sanders and Kenton Sanders are also taking part in the bike ride, was going through drug and alcohol addiction when she came to Focus12.

The 49-year-old, from Bury, said: “I was in a really, really dark place. I didn’t really have a life. They gave me a life back.”

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She added: “It wasn’t just me who was affected by my addiction. It was my whole family, my sons, my parents, my granddaughter. I had been using since I was 12.”

Thanks to the help of Focus12 - where she now supports others recovering from addiction - she has been clean for four years.

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Her son Mykey said he was really proud of her. “She’s still the same person, but she’s changed a lot over the years. Her attitude to life and stuff. She’s got more drive to do things.”

Mr Fitzsimons, 46, who works at Greene King in Bury, said he had sought help before for addiction, but it was only when he had an assessment with Chip Somers, chief executive of Focus12, that “for the first time I felt I had spoken to somebody who understood what was happening to me”.

The father-of-three, from Bury, said he believed the key to why the Focus12 approach was so successful was the experience of the team and that they treat people in the community.

Now a trustee for the charity, Mr Fitzsimons spoke of the proud moment he was an Olympic torchbearer in his home town this summer.

“The nature of being a drug or alcohol addict, you are on the fringes of society. To show you can get from the bottom of the social scale to be nominated to do something that is a bit respectful, I’m really, really pleased and proud to have done it.”

Obtaining enough funding for Focus12 was “always a big issue,” Mr Fitzsimons said, adding how it receives no cash from the Government.

To sponsor the team on the London to Brighton Cycle Ride visit http://www.justgiving.com/teams/Focus12

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