A WELSHPOOL resident and father of one is moving mountains to help those struggling with alcohol dependency – an addiction that cost him his former career as Welsh Boxing Champion.

Russell Pearce, 33, now finds himself in gainful employment at drug and alcohol charity Kaleidoscope. Since joining its recovery programme in 2017 he has come full circle, and has been alcohol free for two and a half years.

Now Russell is raising awareness for people facing similar challenges, and particularly those in the boxing world, where he believes drug and alcohol issues are heightened by pressure to achieve and a culture that makes it difficult to seek help.

There are no conclusive statistics as to how many athletes are dealing with mental health issues as many are suspected to suffer in silence, though research suggests that intense participation in sport can increase the risk of addiction*.

Russell, who quickly discovered he couldn’t drink like other people, said: “It was a slippery slope.

“Before I knew it I was relying on alcohol to feel I belonged – to be outgoing, funny, one of the lads – it just got worse from there. Pretty soon my boxing career had strayed from national champion status to getting hurt fighting for money just to fund my habit.

“Things came to a head when I got into trouble with the police for shoplifting. That’s when I discovered Kaleidoscope and my recovery began.”

Kaleidoscope supports people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues so they can have a brighter future in their communities. Russell is an Engagement and Support worker at Kaleidoscope’s Welshpool base, The Armoury on Brook Street.

Across the county, Kaleidoscope supports more than 450 people, and operates four projects across Powys.

To thank the charity for its support Russell will ascend the three highest peaks in Yorkshire (Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Inglebrough) alongside his wife Charlotte Pearce, over a distance of roughly 24 miles on May 30, this year.

Funds raised will be used to buy boxing equipment for young people and service users to enjoy at Kaleidoscope’s Welshpool Hub.

Caroline Harding, Team Leader at Kaleidoscope Powys, said: “We couldn’t ask for a better member of our team and wish Russell the best of luck with the challenge.

“He’s moved through recovery to become the best version of himself, and the support he gives service users facing similar challenges is invaluable. We can’t wait to see where the next steps in his journey lead him.”

Russell added: “Now I’m a better father, husband, brother and son. I want people to know that addiction can grip anyone, from any background.

“But, there is support out there, walk through our doors and you’ll be greeted with a warm smile and a cuppa.”

If you would like to support the work of Kaleidoscope, you can donate via Russell’s Givey page here: https://www.givey.com/yorkshire3peakschallenge