I’d always liked a drink but over a period of 20 years, this gradually developed into a problem. It got to the point that I was finishing two bottles of vodka a day and became a total recluse, unable to look after myself. Now, I have been sober for more than a year.

I’m Gloucester born and bred and have a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bristol. My degree was funded through work and I went on to be an investigative quality engineer and engine fuel specialist for most of my life – a job that I loved.

I didn’t realise I had a drinking problem for many years and when I did, I ignored it for a very long time. It started with drinking at the weekends and cracking open a beer after work, which eventually turned into having a glass or two of wine instead. I should have realised I was on a slippery slope when I started getting home from work and the first thing I’d do was have a vodka or whisky.

In 2015, my dad became unwell and I gave up my job to become his full-time carer. I stopped drinking completely in this time but really went off the rails when he passed away a year later. My sister was left his house, which I carried on living in until I was hospitalised because of my drinking.

When I was released, I had nowhere to go. My father’s house was uninhabitable by the time I left it because of the way I was living. I was referred to a charity called P3, where I lived for three months before coming to Emmaus Gloucestershire in April 2019.

Emmaus was a bit daunting at first, but I soon got into it. Before everything hit with COVID-19, I worked in the online sales team helping to sell donated books. I’m really looking forward to getting back to that again. I find the job easy compared to what I was doing before, but it’s nice to have a purpose and something to get up for in the morning. After my dad died, the only reason I was getting up was to drink. Even with the Emmaus shops closed for now, I wake up and think I can do some work today to help the Emmaus Gloucestershire community, whether that’s improvements on our community home, gardening, or helping my fellow companions.

Emmaus has helped me to stay on the straight and narrow. It’s a hard road being an alcoholic. It hasn’t been easy, but I came out the other side and I’ve now got my diabetes and angina – both a result of drinking, under control too. I haven’t been this healthy for years.

In my spare time, I’m what is known as a rail enthusiast. I’m a shareholder in a preserved railway line and part-own two locomotives trains. I enjoy buying train parts, repairing them and getting it running again. I also reconnected with my sister properly since becoming sober and get to see her and my niece every week, before the lockdown.

My next step is retirement – I’m going to be 60 this year. My plan is to carry on as I am for now, taking it step by step while I look more into retiring.