ASSISTANT HLFS Christine Horton was so grateful that a Salvation Army Centre saved her son’s life that she asked Major David Groves to run a film night showing nostaglic film clips to raise money for that Centre, Gloucester House. Attending the event were her son and the manager from Gloucester House.
Christine’s son, Phil Spalding, was a top-notch bass guitarist who had played with the likes of Elton John, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and Kylie Minogue. He got into drugs and alcohol and it was ruining his life. Phil takes up the story:
“I had been using recreational drugs for over 20 years and I had been pretty much addicted in all forms for over ten years. I was into heroin, cocaine, cannabis, valium… I liked them all actually. I was a poly-drug user.”
Taking drugs was a natural part of Phil’s music career. As an accomplished musician he found playing the bass guitar easy and the drugs formed part of his routine.
“Early on in my career I could kind of take them and get away with it. It was quite easy for me to play when I was intoxicated. In fact, I thought it helped me. But ultimately it had a disastrous effect on my life. It took over everything: I lost my family, I became unemployable, I lost places to live and in fact when I went to Gloucester House the only person I had in my life was my mum. It was disastrous. It was really disastrous. I really had to change or die. I was dying when I went there. Gloucester House saved my life. I got there in October 2005. If I hadn’t have got there I would have been dead by Christmas.”
Six years on, Phil is slowly getting back on the music circuit but is also using his time to help others who are in the position he had been in.
“I’ve got so much more balance in my life now. I know so much about active addiction and I’ve learned so much about recovering from addiction. I’ve got into volunteering to help other people; something I never did when I was in active addiction. I help other addicts that maybe want to try and change. I have an obligation and duty to do that because I was shown by other people.” Much of Phil’s voluntary work is back at the centre that helped him.
Gloucester House is in Highworth, just outside Swindon. It is a 15-bed rehabilitation unit for people with the most entrenched drug and alcohol problems. The centre employs the 12-step program as used by other organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Centre Manager Sue Tollington explains:
“The first step is to admit that drugs or drink, or whatever your poison is, has beaten you and you cannot stop on your own. And the second step is to actually say ‘Maybe, with God’s help I can’. The third step is handing your life over to your higher power, which for many people will be the Christian God, but not for everybody.” Sue points out that it is a spiritual aspect to the work, not a religious one. The recovery process is holistic, that is: physical, mental, psychological and spiritual; treating the whole person.
The centre is facing a financial challenge. Funding from local and national government for rehabilitation of addicts is becoming more and more difficult to come by. Gloucester House has started a scheme called “Buy a bed – save a life” to raise funds to cover that shortfall. The film evening at Hadleigh Temple raised £430. If you feel led to add to that, please make your cheque out to “The Salvation Army” and send it to The Salvation Army, Gloucester House, 6 High Street, Highworth, Swindon, SN6 7AG. Say you’re sending it as extra support after Christine’s film night.
And as for Phil, he’s enjoying his new life and is taking it one day at a time.
The War Cry has just printed an article about Phil. Read it here.
STOP PRESS: March 24th: A report has come in about an anonymous donation from Hadleigh to Gloucester House for £1000, following the film evening.