World boxing champion Maxi Hughes, his trainer Sean O’Hagan and Leeds United striker-turned-TV-pundit Jermaine Beckford joined almost 100 people who are celebrating their drug and alcohol recovery journeys.
The sports stars handed out certificates at the Forward Leeds Recovery Graduation at Elland Road last Thursday. This marked the achievements of people going through treatment with the Forward Leeds drug and alcohol service, which has its headquarters in Armley.
Maxi Hughes told the audience:
“The people here tonight are champions and what they been through has been a fight for them. It’s inspirational to meet so many people who have been brave enough to confront their issues and battled to overcome them and rebuild their lives.”
As well as getting their certificates and having the chance to meet local celebrities, graduates were entertained by cabaret performer Pure Paloma and a talk from Forward Leeds Clinical Director, Dr Joe Tay.
Anna Headley, Executive Director for Humankind, the lead partner in Forward Leeds, said:
“We’re very grateful to Maxi, Sean and Jermaine for coming along tonight and being such an enthusiastic part of the evening. The fact they have given their time up to be here and spend time with us means so much to everyone who attends, especially our graduates.”
Carla Carr, a Building Recovery in Communities worker from the 5 WAYS recovery centre in Burley, where many graduates continue to receive support, helped organise the event. Carla said:
“It was great to see so many of the people we have seen come through 5 WAYS gathered together at the same time, celebrating with each other what they’ve achieved. It’s great to take an evening out like this to recognise the hard work and struggles they have gone through.
“For so many of them, it’s not just about an end to substance misuse but about building a better quality of life for themselves and moving forward. That’s what they are really celebrating.”
The event took place in the Norman Hunter Suite at Elland Road football ground on September 23.