A recovering alcoholic from Milton Keynes has spoken of how scuba diving helped him turn his life around.
Gavin Morris, 21, is one of seven men who have been given a unique opportunity to discover a new life underwater thanks to a pioneering scuba programme being run by the rehabilitation centre supporting him to get back on track.
It’s all thanks to British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) instructor Bryan Spence, who runs The Carpenter’s Arms Residential Centre in Loughborough.
He set up the facility as a way of using scuba diving to aid the recovery of drug and alcohol addicts.
Gavin, who continues to recover from his serious alcohol issues, said: “I lived and worked in the Milton Keynes area and was employed in a restaurant which meant, unfortunately, drink was easily available.
“I was drinking around a litre of spirits a day, plus beer, and doing some drugs too, although alcohol was always the main problem. I asked a pastor for help and he got me a place at The Carpenter’s Arms.
“I have now been free of drink for one year, eight months and five days, and now volunteer with a charity two days a week and cook at The Carpenter’s Arms three or four days a week.
“I plan to join the Air Force and train as a mechanic, then use their education programme to train as a nurse so I can eventually work in Third World countries.”
Gavin was born in the United States but moved here at the age of 11.
He added: “Diving is absolutely amazing and it’s something I can do to let off steam.
“It’s great as it teaches me so much such as planning, working as a team, staying safe and thinking problems through and having attention to detail.
“Most of my family has returned to the US but mum still lives here and she is so proud of the fact I’m learning to dive and that I have finally achieved something in my life.”
Gavin is now close to gaining his first BSAC Ocean Diver scuba qualification.
Bryan Spence set up The Carpenters Arms facility, a Christian charity, which helps men challenged by drug and alcohol addictions, in 2009 along with his wife, Judith.
He said: “Scuba diving helps people achieve so much, it gives them a focus.
“It gives them a buzz and a measure of excitement but it really does show them that they can experience a real thrill without being high on drugs or being bombed out on booze
“The reaction I get when I ask whether they would like to give diving a go is incredible. You get this shocked look and then they tend to ask whether I’m serious.
“It’s amazing to see their confidence grow and the self-belief, instead of self-loathing, flooding into them.”