This month we are sharing Chris’s story which acts as a stark reminder of how quickly things can spiral out of control, with near fatal consequences.

Chris runs his own business, Luxury Maintenance Services Ltd.  A business which provides professional maintenance services exclusively to the luxury retail sector and their affiliated premises, working with the companies such as Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, the Tods group and many more.

So when Covid-19 struck, the pressures of trying to run a business directly associated with the retail industry had an immediate and devastating financial and emotional impact on Chris’s wellbeing.

This is Chris’s story, in his own words.

I want to share the story of why I am still here today and my journey with the lighthouse club charity.

It’s fair to say I haven’t led a charmed existence; from growing up as a kid on the ‘at risk’ register for abused kids, to being in violent relationships, losing my dad in my teens, and various other family tragedies, the list goes on.  

Fast forward to 2019,  early 2020 and I have a thriving business, just bought a lovely new house, I was on my second Porsche and not long back from my bucket list holiday of the northern lights up in the arctic. I had a brilliant team of staff around me, work going amazingly well and after years of workplace bullying when I was an employee and various awful bosses it was just SO great to captain my own ship. Just for five minutes, all was right with the world……. and I thought my luck had changed.

Then we started hearing about some strange flu in China that was causing delays on materials, I don’t think I need to tell you the rest do I?

So almost overnight all our work stopped, Harrods, Selfridges and all our independents start closing. I suddenly have staff working from home and then not at all.

This was before furlough was even announced. I had an empty office, vans, insurances and wages for my staff that had children to feed and bills to pay. My responsibility amounted to many tens of thousands of pounds a month.  I literally couldn’t believe what was happening and I don’t mind admitting that I went to a very dark place very quickly.

I just couldn’t face losing everything I had built up and was just sick and tired of my lot in life. I had actually gone as far as to plan how I was going to do it, having googled different methods and picked one where I would still look pretty good in a box, I know, vanity will out even at that point.

It was at this moment I got a call from an unknown number. I’m a Company Supporter of the Lighthouse Club and it turned out to be them asking me for my annual donation. It could not have come at a worse time.

The lady on the phone, sensed my state of mind I think and said to me “Are you alright? Forget I even called for your annual donation, I just want to know you are ok and you are coping”

Well I cracked up and admitted no, I wasn’t coping and that was the first step. Hearing some of my back catalogue she quickly got a case worker to speak with me. I felt overwhelmed that someone cared so much. What resulted was the charity funding a series of counselling sessions for me over a period of months.

 I can’t tell you what this meant to me as the NHS wait was three months before you could even be assessed. I started the sessions and poured my heart out finding it far easier to talk to a stranger. I didn’t want to burden my friends and family with how bad I was and what some of my thoughts were, or to be honest even disclose some of the true horrors of my past to those that might not know.

I am a very proud person and I’ve worked very hard to build a life that’s far away from where I came from and to keep up the pretence of being strong and successful. I didn’t want anyone to see any of the chinks in my armour. But I didn’t mind a stranger seeing them and exploring them.

The counselling is certainly the reason I came back fighting. I was able to get the business back on track, become stronger emotionally and understand my own mental health and why I am the way I am, why I behave in certain ways and the reasons behind these behaviours, many of which do stem from the past.

The swift action and support from the lighthouse club may have actually saved my life. What a great thing to be able to say.

I cannot thank the team at the charity enough for what they have done and for being there when I needed them. They have called many times since to check in on me on a personal level.

The result of all this is that I am better equipped to cope. I still struggle, but I can recognise the signs more quickly and I know that I can reach out for help whenever I need to. That is why I also wanted to do my bit to say thank you and I am now the voluntary Club Secretary for the Lighthouse Club in the East Midlands, working with a great bunch of like minded people.

I first shared my story at the club’s annual lunch at Christmas and now I am sharing it with a huge audience. But I want to let others know, that there is always help out there, however big or small you think your problem is, there is always someone at the Lighthouse Club ready to listen.”

We want to say a huge thank you to Chris for sharing his very personal and painful journey and we are so pleased to have him on board as a regional volunteer. Your smile has made a world of difference!