SMILING from ear to ear in a room filled with crackers, tinsel and all things festive, John Harrison is full of Christmas cheer.
It’s hard to believe that just 12 months ago, he was in a hospital bed, sure that the alcohol problems which had plagued his life would kill him.
But with the help of Sheffield’s St Wilfrid’s Centre for vulnerable and socially excluded adults, the 49-year-old has turned his life around and is on the road to recovery.
John, of Arbourthorne, was one of hundreds of people the charity has helped in the past year who gathered for its annual Christmas celebration.
John said: “This time last year I was dying. This place has changed my life. Everybody has their own issues here but everyone respects each other.”
Sean Murphy, aged 47, from Heeley, said: “I’ve been coming here for four years now. I was homeless after my marriage broke up. I came here and they helped me get a flat.
“It’s like a big family. They’re amazing. I haven’t had heating at home for 10 days, I’ve been ringing up but they don’t want to know. I came to St Wilfrid’s and they sorted it for me that day.
“Without their help I wouldn’t be here today, I was so bad with depression.”
Darren Hornsby, 41, of Lowedges, said: “None of us have anything. We’ve nothing to go home to so we don’t celebrate. This is our Christmas Day.”
Council leader Julie Dore, Blades boss Danny Wilson and Bishop of Hallam John Rawsthorne were among guests.
Guest of honour was Simrin Choudhrie, the Indian heiress who helped the centre as part of Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire.
Simrin, who named her son Wilfrid after the centre, said: “I am Hindu so we don’t celebrate Christmas, but I really look forward to this dinner. To me this is my Christmas.
“I live in London and I’ve been to other places like this which do similar things – but they don’t compare.”