'˜It's nice to be a new mural star!'

Preston's best-known former vagrant has been immortalised in a mural in one of the city's newest restaurants.

Sunday, 21st August 2016, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 4:43 pm
Terrence Ashcroft with the mural at Solita, Preston. He was once dubbed Toxic Terry but has turned his life around

Terrence Ashcroft, who was once dubbed “Toxic Terry” for his penchant for sniffing solvents, was considered by many as one of Preston’s most colourful characters.

But the Evening Post reported earlier this how Terry had worked to turn his life around and get clean of his addiction.

Manchester-based grafitti artist Russell Meehan has depicted Terry with blue and orange hair on the piece of pop art, entitled the famous Faces of Preston, at the new Solita restaurant in Winckley Square.

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Terry was treated to a free burger as he finally visited the premises to see the artwork for himself.

He said: “ It doesn’t look like me really, I look like a girl! I wasn’t asked about it but I’m not bothered.

“It’s nice to be thought of as one of Preston’s celebrities.

“I went out on Saturday night and young girls were just coming up to me begging to have their picture taken with me. It’s unbelievable, everyone is telling me how good I look.”

Russell Meehan, who runs Mural Life, said: “It’s a pop art mural hence Terry’s hair colour.

“Solita came to me with the idea. Their Twitter followers made the suggestions. It also includes Andrew Flintoff, Nick Park, R2-D2 as played by the late Kenny Baker, and Butch Cassidy whose dad lived in Preston.

“Terry is such an icon in Preston apparently. We found a picture of him online. I didn’t want people to think we were laughing at him. It’s so cool that his love of music helped him out of his addiction.”

Terry, 44, who now lives in a Fulwood bedsit, became an infamous character in the city centre after developing an addiction to glue sniffing and drinking petrol.

It led to him becoming homeless, jobless, jailed, slapped with anti social behaviour order and eventually sectioned.

More than 4,300 people are Terry’s ‘fans’ on a spoof Facebook account. In 2008 he ended up in hospital after setting himself alight with a cigarette.

But after being sectioned Terry, whose parents were a car firm director and cleaner, reinvented himself as a church-going Abba fan and has been clean of solvents for six-and-a-half years.

He says: “To stay clean you have to get a routine. I’ve started playing pool at the White Hart or Stanley Arms, listening to music.”

Terry recently had his heart broken after he decided to split up with his girlfriend due to a drug problem.

He recalls: “We used to walk her dog sit on a bench and hug.

“But I didn’t want to get in with that kind of crowd again. I’m a new person.”