World boxing champion Josh Warrington along with his trainer-father Sean O’Hagan and Leeds Rhinos player Jack Walker, handed out certificates at the Forward Leeds Recovery Graduation.
The event saw 50 people celebrate their achievement in going through treatment with drug and alcohol service Forward Leeds and who then sustained their recovery.
Josh Warrington said: “The people I’ve met tonight are champion fighters themselves. It’s truly inspirational to meet so many people who have picked themselves up and fought so hard and shown so much courage in their lives.
Josh, who won the IBF World Featherweight title last year, added: “Tonight is great for Leeds too. It’s real proof for people out there in the city that recovery from alcohol and drugs is possible. It’s a privilege to be here.”
Anna Headley, Executive Director for Humankind, the lead partner in Forward Leeds, said: ”We’re very grateful to Josh, Sean and Jack for sharing in our celebration. I know their presence and time with us means so much to everyone here.”
Jo Byrden, manager of the 5 WAYS recovery centre, off Burley Road, where many graduates receive further support, said: “It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces gathered together in one place and quite rightly celebrating with one another and recognising the hard work they have made in their journey to recovery”.
She added: “For so many of them, it’s not just about an end to substance misuse but about building a better life for themselves and moving forward. That’s what they are really celebrating.”
The event took place at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Middleton, Leeds.