Taking control of my illness in safety

“Experiencing life with an alcoholic parent is like being on an emotional roller coaster. I was surprised by the years it took to witness the destructive impact his words and threatening behaviour could have on our family.

“I was two days old when I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Living with this condition, I have accepted challenges that have become a part of my everyday life. However, without them, I would not be the person I am today. Sport is extremely important as it helps to keep me healthy. This is the reason my parents decided to send me to a public school.

“During my time at St Andrew’s school I was given the opportunity to participate in numerous sports teams enabling me to take control of my illness rather than it controlling me. I became the gymnastics captain, the netball vice captain and played hockey for the Sussex Development squad. However life began to change as my father’s alcohol addiction spiraled out of control.

“He began to cause destruction and inflict emotional pain towards everyone he loved. My caring loving father had disappeared, leaving behind an aggressive, intimidating and terrifying monster. I witnessed him hitting my brothers, being charged for drink driving with me and my younger brother in the car. He slashed all four tyres on my mother’s car and glued the lock to our house. An image that still sticks with me today is him standing outside our house holding a karate weapon. He also threatened the headmaster in his words “watch out, I know where you and your family live”. We were in such danger at home that the police installed a panic alarm. 

“I felt unsafe at home, never knowing when he’d be back. Going to school was my only means of escape and this was in danger of being taken away from me, as my mother could not afford the fees. However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of charities and a boarding school which enabled me not only to stay at school but provided me the opportunity to board.

“They offered me a sense of security, which I feel everyone is entitled to. The boarding environment allowed me to escape from the potentially harmful circumstances of home life and offered me emotional support, provided by my teachers.  The charities continued to support me through my independent senior school. I began to flourish, achieving 9 GCSEs grades A*’s and A’s and 3 A levels. My father still attempts to cause destruction in my life, further fuelled by the fact I am determined to make something of my own life.

“Now, I am studying psychology at university. Through hard work I aim to become a children’s clinical psychologist. I hope to achieve my ultimate desire - to help other people to live a happier and fulfilled life by leaving the ugliness of their past behind. 

“Without the help of the Royal National Children’s Foundation, and the unstinting care and support of my mother, I guarantee I would not be where I am today or the person that stands before you.  I hope I can give something back, which I know will be small in comparison to what they have given me .I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for giving me my life back and providing me with a future and for that reason I am forever grateful.”