Following our Story - June

A Case Study with... David

Dave Willmott is a four-time K1/Muay champion Thai Kickboxer. He holds the English, British, European and Intercontinental ISKA belts. His journey to success has not been easy. Through sheer determination, he has fought off his demons and overcome a very serious addiction to drugs. This is his story of triumph over drugs:

Drugs had turned me into a raging animal. I lost everything – job, friends, family, my life. I had stolen from the very people who brought me up. I went from weed to drink, to heroine, to crack, back to heroin, weed, cannabis, drink…. for 15 years. I was homeless and just didn’t care about anything as long as I could get the drugs. I begged God to kill me every day. I knew I was in trouble. The drugs weren’t working. I didn’t want to go through another day of using drugs – it was too painful. I tried to end it all many times, but someone always came to the rescue. In 2005 I hit rock bottom when both my Muay Thai instructors died within a month of each other. It felt as though a part of me had died with them. I used more drugs to cope with the pain. I’d not had a chance to say sorry to either of them. I felt so guilty.

Someone suggested rehab, but I thought it was only for celebrities like Amy Winehouse! ‘Yes, this is my chance to get away and learn to use more sensibly,’ I thought. I was 31 years old, at rock bottom and terrified. I had been at Nelson House for three weeks - transported from the dirty city streets to the beautiful hills of Stroud. I remember waking one morning to the sun streaming through my window. I could hear the wind in the trees and the birds. I realised I was CLEAN. I knew PEACE. This was my first moment of being in the here and now. I still wanted to keep everyone around me at a distance. I listened to others sharing their feelings honestly. I was no longer alone. We all carried the shame of doing terrible things to feed addiction. It was such a release to cry. I started to thaw out.

My four and a half months with The Nelson Trust gave me a strong foundation. Running, training at the gym and kickboxing helped me to channel my aggression. I renewed my love of Hip Hop and poetry and I began to get creative with rapping. People saw me as loyal, caring, supportive and thoughtful. I made lifelong friends.

It’s important to admit that bad things happen. Each of us has a deep secret. I don’t want to lie or hide any more. You can break free when you share with others. People want to listen. They will open up and talk about what they’ve been through. I began to realise that I love helping others. Since 2013, I’ve been teaching at Fifth Dimension Gym in Ebley, Stroud. Some people have church or the mosque, but I have the gym. This is my holy place. I have caused a lot of damage, but now I have the chance to give something back. I can pass my skills on to the next generation. Alongside getting qualified, I’m a personal trainer and love teaching boxercise, women’s Thai boxing, circuits, and East-West Thai boxing. I train with Team Tieu in London once a week and aspire to become a top coach.

I really want to help young men who struggle with anger. If I can do this, I’ll die a happy man. My perfect day is teaching and inspiring others, eating healthy food and waking up with my Mrs every morning. I’m not greedy. I know my values. Success is not about money. I care deeply about the legacy I leave in people’s hearts. There are so many people who drink to deal with the pain of their reality. They hate their jobs and are afraid to face up to things. If you don’t like something, you have to change it. You must believe in yourself – anything is possible. I’m calling on everyone in recovery to STAND WITH ME – be STRONG and BE YOURSELF.

I’m right at the end of my fighting career. On Saturday 6th June, I dedicated my fight against Dawid Marsel (at GL1 Leisure Centre in Gloucester) to The Nelson Trust. It was a gruelling battle, but I’m proud to say that all the training paid off and I was victorious. I’m donating my fight fee to say THANKYOU to the charity that helped me turn my life around. Everyone sponsored Big Dave and so far I’ve raised over £800! I want to spread the word about this kind of residential rehab treatment. So many people think that Methadone is the only way, but you can achieve lasting change. Lots of people have been inspired by my story and I’m calling on everyone in the area to donate here:

If you have been touched by this story and wish to support the Nelson Trust you can donate £5 via text by texting NELS30 £5 to 70070