Paul Richardson is a man with a very big plan. Next month he will set off from Kalgoorlie on his bike and cycle roughly 27,000km around Australia to his story of hope and recovery.
For the past few months he has had a solid training schedule, riding nearly 100km every day. He is – in his own words – a bundle of health, both mentally and physically, and he cannot wait to set off on his grand adventure.
It is a very different picture to the Paul Richardson of two years ago, whose future looked decidedly bleak.
“I had been through a marriage breakdown. I am aware this happens to many people, but I decided to solve my personal trauma by using alcohol. I drank myself into oblivion,” he recalls.
“At one point I attempted to take my life, and I was flown from Esperance up to Kalgoorlie by the Royal Flying Doctors Service.”
Understanding the problem
He ended up in the care of the Goldfields Rehabilitation Service, who also put him in touch with Goldfields Community Alcohol and Drug Service (GCADS), run by Hope Community Services (HOPE).
“I began to build an awareness of the problem I faced. HOPE educated me in that, and every time I had a session with them, I came away thinking ‘This is brilliant!’,” he says.
“I began to accept that I had a problem.”
“With exercise and the education I received from HOPE I’ve really been able to take off.”
Sharing his story
He has rediscovered an enthusiasm for life and is now keen to share his story with others as he cycles around the country.
“I want to talk alcohol and to others who are experiencing what I went through,” he says. “I know that AOD is not exactly being ignored, but there are people who are falling through the cracks, they don’t know where to go or who to talk to.
Jasper Bush, HOPE (GCADS) counsellor and educator, said Paul had worked hard throughout his recovery process.
“It’s wonderful to see Paul where he is today, so full of energy,” said Jasper. “The fact that he is willing to share his story with others is generous, and important – an honest conversation can prompt others to reconsider their own behaviours and choices.”
To help him throughout his journey, Paul has established a Go Fund Me page, where members of the public can donate to help him cover basic living expenses and equipment for the trip.
Any surplus funds will be divided and donated to HOPE, Royal Flying Doctors Services, Kalgoorlie Health Campus and Esperance Health Campus.
To donate go to: https://gofund.me/76094430