A brave charity worker, who turned his life around after decades of alcoholism, has issued a farewell message as he faces his final days.
David Tinlin thought he would never see his 50th birthday due to his alcohol demons, but 10 years ago, when he was told he had tried to kill himself in a police cell, he vowed to give up the drink, sought expert help, and has never touched a drop since.
Not only did he conquer his own battle, but he began working at Escape Family Support to help others, and in 2013 set up his own charity Drout, Drink Out Dry Out, in his hometown of Morpeth.
However, fate has dealt a cruel hand and now, at the age of just 53, Mr Tinlin has been told he has weeks to live due to aggressive tumours.
It is the fourth time the Stobhill resident has faced cancer – at the age of 18 he had throat cancer, in 1985 he was treated for testicular cancer and six weeks later was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
“I had been clear for 27 years so I thought I had beaten it,” he said.
“When I started Drout I intended to run it for 20 or 25 years and hand it over when it was well established, but you don’t know what’s around the corner. At least its on the road now.”
And it is Drout that is now Mr Tinlin’s priority.
He cooked Christmas dinner for about 15 clients, even though he was unable to eat himself, manned the 24-hour helpline from his hospital bed, and still plans to go into the office to brief volunteers about continuing his work.
“Drout has got to carry on,” he said.
“I won’t be here, but there are other people who have promised to keep it going.
“If it wasn’t for places like Drout there would be more deaths, more crime and more problems.
“A lot of people turn to alcohol, but it is not good for you and we will give all the support we can to help people give it up.
“I would like to think that in 10 years’ time Drout will be a big charity and everybody will know about it.
“My wish is that people will carry on volunteering, carry on organising charity events and carry on raising money so it can help people.
“All of the people we have treated appreciate every bit of help they have had. Long may it continue.”
Mr Tinlin has also written to the Government to push for financial support.
“There are big charities that get all the Government money, but we are taking their clients so it is only fair that some funding should come to the smaller charities,” he said.
“The Government needs to support smaller charities, and get awareness out about what alcohol can do to you.”
Drout, which currently has 45 clients, offers one-to-one support, monthly breakfasts, sport, arts and craft activities, allotment work, and relaxation techniques – all of which helped Mr Tinlin with his own recovery.
He hopes others will take inspiration from his turn-around.
“I had a problem for years, but it really got out of control when my dad died in 1996. I really missed him and turned to alcohol to help me,” he said.
“I started getting into trouble with the police and I was in and out of St George’s Hospital with depression. The last time I had a drink, they told me I’d tried to kill myself in the cell. That really hit home.
“I went for help and a fortnight after I’d stopped drinking I went to Blackpool with friends for a week’s holiday. I thought if I could get through that week without alcohol, I could get through life without it.
“The lads really helped me through that week and I turned my life around.
“If I can go without drink, anybody can.”
Through his charity work, Mr Tinlin was introduced to the Queen, carried the Olympic Torch, and has completed the Great North Run, fire and glass walks, parachute and bungee jumps, an abseil and the coast to coast cycle ride.
However, he said: “My biggest achievements are getting off the drink and seeing 50, and getting into a line of work helping people, listening to them, and getting through to them.”
Mr Tinlin held his last charity night at Morpeth RAFA Club on Saturday. The evening raised more than £1,000, which will be shared between Drout and children’s cancer charities.
“I’m going out of this world shortly, but there will be a little baby coming in and these people have to be looked after because children are our future,” he said.
“Children with cancer don’t know what they are going through. There are people trying to make them better and make them comfortable and we have to support that.”
The grandfather-of-two will be recording a version of his favourite song, The Answer, to be played at his funeral and he hopes that it will go on sale to raise further funds for the two causes.
“A lot of people know the words mean a lot to me. I sang it at the RAFA Club on Saturday as a goodbye,” he said.
“The people of Morpeth and the shopkeepers and businesses have been very supportive over the years. The list is endless for the people who have helped and I would like to thank them all.”
To volunteer or raise funds for Drout visit the office in Bridge Street, Morpeth, or call 01670 222627. For the helpline call 07442 491634.