A man who has overcome his own battle with drink and drug addiction to help and support others has been honoured for his hard work and dedication.
Tony Ormond, from Wrexham, knows how difficult it is to overcome addiction problems having spent 17 years of his life injecting heroin, using cocaine and ecstasy, abusing alcohol and committing crime to fund his habit.
Now, having dramatically turned his life around, the 40-year-old has been recognised by North Wales Police and Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC for the passion and energy he gives to help others do the same.
At the inaugural Commissioner’s Awards, Tony was given the Individual Endeavour accolade for his work as a Service User Involvement Co-ordinator with AVOW, Wrexham’s voluntary service council.
His role with AVOW is a complete contrast to the wasteland years when he had his finger firmly on the self-destruct button.
Tony said: “Getting this award is quite overwhelming for me. I was homeless by the age of 17 and hanging round in gangs injecting heroin. I have quite a long criminal record so to be recognised for what I do now working alongside the police is amazing.”
Commissioner Winston Roddick decided to launch his own awards scheme this year to honour the unsung crime fighting heroes of the community.
Nominations for local people who help the police in keeping their neighbourhoods safe and peaceful places flooded in and Tony was selected for an award alongside ten others handed over during a special ceremony, sponsored by Police Mutual, at the Kinmel Manor Hotel in Abergele.
The first person Tony phoned as soon as he found out about the award was his mum.
He said: “I can’t attribute my problems to having a poor upbringing or a bad education as I didn’t have either of them. My mum and dad tried their best and they were the ones who had the police knocking at their door. My recovery is also their recovery and my mum just cried when I told her.”
Now inspiring others to bring about the changes he has been able to, Tony considers himself an ambassador for what is possible and never hides his past.
He said: “I never deny it. I work with some chronically desperate people and they need to see that it can be done. If I can change then I believe anyone can because the help and support is there.
“Once I realised that I couldn’t do this thing alone I had a massive network of assistance. I became a product of a very positive environment.
“It has been three and a half years now but I am still in recovery and I still go to get help or to the AA when I need to,” Tony added.
Describing Tony’s dedication to his role with the addicts he supports, AVOW’s deputy chief officer Janet Radford said: “Tony’s passion and dedication to his role is incredible, he simply never stops.
“He is always willing to do whatever it takes to improve things for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Our only problem with him is getting him to take some time off – and even when we succeed he ends up volunteering somewhere else!
“This award is so richly deserved, we are proud and privileged to have him as part of the AVOW team.”
But for Tony, who lives with his partner Alison, his role with AVOW is not even a job as he explains: “I don’t come in every day for the work, I come in to make a difference and I have such a lot of empathy for the people I’m working with that I just love it.
“I bounce out of bed every morning for so many reasons and the fact that I get paid for it is at the bottom of that list.”
Mr Roddick, who in his time has served as a police officer, a barrister and a judge, said: “One thing all our winners have in common is that they make North Wales a better and safer place to live and work.
“There are a great number of people who do a lot of good in the community by helping North Wales Police and these silent workers go way beyond anybody else to make a contribution and ensure their communities are safe.
“In the overwhelming number of cases, this a personal commitment made without expectation of any kind of reward or recognition.
“I created the award so that these unsung heroes and heroines of communities across North Wales could received the recognition they deserve and to encourage others to emulate their good example.”