Vet­eran has big plans af­ter win­ning award

Ex-Ser­vice­man who turned his life around is recog­nised for his fundrais­ing

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - NEWS - By Joel Lamy Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

A for­mer army ser­vice­man who turned his life around af­ter be­com­ing home­less has been recog­nised with a ‘pride’ award for his tire­less fundrais­ing ef­forts.

Tony Fran­cis of Wer­ring­ton was cho­sen as the ‘Pride of M&S’ at the chain’s an­nual awards cer­e­mony, and the for­mer army re­servist will now put his £1,000 win­nings to­wards two new com­mem­o­ra­tive First World War benches he hopes to see put up in Bridge Street.

CCTV op­er­a­tor Tony said: “I’m still shocked. Go­ing from where I was to how I am now, it’s ab­so­lutely amaz­ing.

“I just want to give back and I en­joy do­ing it.”

Tony spent five years in the Ter­ri­to­rial Army af­ter join­ing aged 18, tour­ing Ger­many and Canada, then be­came a po­lice of­fi­cer. But a con­vic­tion for drink driv­ing saw him serve five weeks in prison, and when he came out he was home­less for two years, spend­ing most of the time sofa surf­ing.

Tony, a dad of four, said: “Luck­ily, most of the time I had some­where to get washed and show­ered.”

But, thanks to the help of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion (RBL) Tony turned his life around and found per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment at M&S at the Brotherhood Re­tail Park.

Since then, he has thrown him­self into help­ing oth­ers, spend­ing his time ar­rang­ing fundrais­ing events for lo­cal vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

Tony is also in­stru­men­tal in ar­rang­ing com­mem­o­ra­tive events in the city and is cur­rently work­ing on a large ‘vet­er­ans’ hub’ project, where vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies can seek face-to-face sup­port.

He also works closely with the Royal Vol­un­tary Ser­vice, help­ing lo­cal pen­sion­ers with their needs and ar­rang­ing day trips through­out the year.

Tony said: “It’s un­be­liev­able. Even my own daugh­ter says ‘you’ve just changed so much, you’ve re­ally turned your life around’.”

Next up for Tony is his mis­sion to get the com­mem­o­ra­tive benches in­stalled to co­in­cide with the 100-year an­niver­sary of the Great War.

The project al­ready has the sup­port of the RBL and M&S, and Tony added: “At this rate it might be in­stalled sooner rather than later. It’s some­thing I’ve been want­ing to do for a while.”

‘I’m still shocked. Go­ing from where I was to how I am now, it’s ab­so­lutely amaz­ing’ Tony Fran­cis

Tony Fran­cis be­ing pre­sented his award by Sacha Berendji, di­rec­tor of re­tail at M&S

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.