A RECOVERING alcoholic who was once banned from York city centre is turning his life around.

At the height of his addiction, Desmond Wassell drank up to eight bottles of brandy a day, and he was issued with a criminal antisocial behaviour order (CRASBO) by magistrates in 2011, after police described him as “an absolute blight to the city centre”.

He has now been sober for a year, has his own flat in the city - after being homeless for more than eight years - and says he is happy to be changing his life.

Mr Wassell, 42, said: “I kept getting arrested and I’d had enough of it. Every time I was in drink, I got in trouble. I remember standing in Piccadilly Circus at 4am and thinking ‘how am I not drunk any more?’ It got me big time. That was when I realised I was a chronic alcoholic. I still am - I will be recovering for the rest of my life.”

Last July, Mr Wassell sought help from York charity Carecent, who put him in touch with Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) - an organisation that helps people deal with addiction. He underwent a two-week detox in hospital in Manchester, and said since he stopped drinking, his emotions have “started flooding back”, and he remained grateful for the help he has received from many agencies and support groups.

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He said: “I went to the MEAM conference in London, and met the two guys who started it and said ‘thank you for setting it up and thanks for your help, because it’s a Godsend’. I was always scared when I was outside and homeless. Scared I wouldn’t get my life back. I lost everything, and now it’s time to build it back up.”

On October 9, Mr Wassell will take part in a bungee jump to raise money for Carecent, who helped him find support, and the RSPCA. Nicky Gladstone, from Carecent, said she hoped Mr Wassell could be an inspiration.

She said: “He’s a real character, a lovely guy. It’s fair to say he can be difficult, but the change has been amazing. It was always clear there was a lovely guy in there, and here he is. It definitely makes you optimistic that other people can be helped.”

Mr Wassell said: “I was named after Desmond Dekker, who sang ‘you can get it if you really want, but you must try, try and try’, and you’ll succeed at last. It needs a bit of effort, and sometimes you don’t have the capability to do it on your own, but with help and a bit of effort yourself, you can make a change.”

To sponsor Mr Wassell, go to mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/desmondwassell1