Beating booze helped David win top award

David Strickland, 46, from Blackpool, who was named Inspiring Learner of the Year at the regional learndirect Inspiration Awards.
David Strickland, 46, from Blackpool, who was named Inspiring Learner of the Year at the regional learndirect Inspiration Awards.
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A recovering alcoholic has been honoured with an award after he turned his life around.

David Strickland’s road to recovery wasn’t easy after suffering a heart attack while getting back into education to pursue his dream of helping others with addiction problems.

But the 47-year-old, from St Annes, is now celebrating after beating off fierce competition from across the North of England to be named Inspiring Learner of the Year.

The award was handed to him at the regional Learndirect Inspiration Awards, after being nominated by PHX Training. The award celebrates learners who have overcome difficult circumstances to succeed.

The father-of-three battled with alcohol for 25 years but has now been sober for seven years – and turned to education to help him to turn his life around.

He approached Blackpool-based PHX Training and enrolled on courses in maths and English but suffered a mild heart attack in the middle of his training.

He returned to PHX Training only a fortnight later and went on to pass both qualifications.

Mr Strickland, who is due to start a BSc Honours degree in psychology, psychotherapy with counselling at the 
University of Central Lancashire in September, said: “When I was in the alcohol detox unit in 2007 I made a vow that I was going to educate myself. I wanted a career.

“Alcohol used to take up a lot of my life so if I’m not drinking, I need to fulfil something in my life.

“Even when I had a mild heart attack, I went back to finish the qualifications – I just wanted to go for it!

“Coming from the background I have with the alcoholism, it’s fantastic to win this award.

“And I’m looking forward to starting the degree.

“I want to specialise in addiction so I can help others.”

Duncan Wilding, centre manager at PHX Blackpool, said: “We can’t praise David enough for his willpower and sheer determination, every barrier he has faced he has still managed to jump over.

“David is proof that hard work really does pay off.

“Despite all his setbacks he never gave up, and was even volunteering at addiction charities and helping the homeless while he was studying with us.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving for the award and we’re thrilled that the learndirect judges agreed.”

Mr Strickland, who has three grandchildren, added: “It’s so overwhelming to win this award. I can’t thank PHX Training enough.”

He will attend the national finals in London in July, where he will compete against the other regional winners.