Royal wedding invitation for recovering alcoholic who set up Sheffield support group

Steven Collier-Ellen founded Sheffield Christians in Recovery, which supports those battling addiction
Steven Collier-Ellen founded Sheffield Christians in Recovery, which supports those battling addiction
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A recovering addict from Sheffield who is helping others after his alcohol dependency nearly cost him his life will join the royal wedding celebrations.

Steven Collier-Ellen founded the Sheffield Christians in Recovery group, which has supported dozens of people battling alcoholism and other forms of addiction.

The 52-year-old, of Broomhall, understands only too well the struggles they face - his body having been ravaged by drink before he pulled himself back from the brink.

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He credits Christianity with saving his life by filling the 'huge void' he attempted to plug with alcohol for many years before rediscovering his faith.

In 2009 he reached his nadir, spending three months in hospital where medics told him years of alcohol abuse had 'burned out' his cerebellum, the part of the brain which controls balance, leaving him walking 'skew-whiff' without the use of a stick. That experience prompted what he calls an 'epiphany'.

"I was a lapsed Christian but that night I prayed and I think it was the first time I'd prayed and really meant it," said Steven, who worships at the Jesus Fellowship Church in Broomhall.

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"I didn't pray to stop drinking. I prayed to get my dignity back. I gave myself over to Christ and my life changed completely.

"God changed my life for a purpose: not just for me to get better but so I could do good for others, and that's how Christians in Recovery evolved."

The former nurse says that like many alcoholics, he was able to 'hold things together' for long stretches before reality became too hard for him to take and he would succumb to his addiction.

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He remembers waking up many times in hospital or a police cell - where he had been taken for his own safety - with no idea how he had ended up there.

As well as wrecking his health, he recalls how his addiction led to him losing contact with his family, who he said wanted to help but didn't know how.

Christians in Recovery doesn't just help those facing addiction themselves, says Steven, but those whose loved ones are affected by the 'ripple effect'.

Steven is one of 1,200 deserving members of the public who have been invited by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to join the royal wedding celebrations on May 19 within the grounds of Windsor Castle with a companion of their choice.

"I'm overwhelmed. This sort of thing doesn't happen to people like me," he said.

"Hopefully my story will give others belief that they can do the same, and inspiring people to seek help for their addiction is the most important thing."