A Shropshire man who has used cycling to support his recovery from addiction – and is now helping others to do the same – has received a national award.
Ollie Atkin, from Market Drayton, has been presented with British Cycling’s Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of the work he has done with Breaking Chains Cycling Club.
The project was created last year by Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin’s county sports partnership Energize, working with drug and substance addiction recovery service, A Better Tomorrow.
Joe Lockley, club development manager at Energize, said: “We wanted to see how we could use sport to help people who were struggling to overcome addiction.
“For Ollie, it has turned his life around. He had already been using cycling as a way of helping his own recovery, and when he found out about our plans Breaking Chains, he was immediately keen to get involved.”
Newport Cycling Club took Ollie under their wing, trained him to become a session leader, and put him forward for the outstanding achievement award. They describe him as ‘an inspiration’.
Ollie said: “Through a series of unfortunate events in my life, things took a turn for the worse, and I turned further and further to drink and drugs.
“To the outside world I may have been OK, but myself, and those really closest to me, knew that something was really not right.
“Since I’ve got myself better through cycling and the things that go with that, I’ve realised that cycling is such a unique sport and pastime.
“At professional level it’s the toughest sport on earth, and those who are going through very harsh addictions understand what it’s like to put yourself through a very harsh physical process every single day.”
Ollie said he wanted to turn his own negative experiences into something positive, by helping other people who found themselves in a similar predicament.
Ollie has been working with Newport Cycling Club and Energize to raise funding for Breaking Chains, as well as training as a coach, and sourcing bikes and equipment.
The cycling club said: “The programme has been an outstanding success, changing lives forever.”
The award presentation was made at Woodside Community Centre in Telford, by Nick Yarworth, regional development manager at British Cycling.
He cited Ollie’s story as a model which British Cycling would like to see replicated in other parts of the country.
Pictured: Nick Jones and Martin Cantrill from A Better Tomorrow, Ollie Atkin, Nick Yarworth, and Nick Jeggo from Newport Cycling Club