The King and I - Elvis and carers helped me turn my life around
Once a successful businessman running two butcher's shops, Trevor Hardman lost it all after becoming dependent on alcohol and suffering a mental breakdown. He tells AASMA DAY how he is slowly building his life back with the support of carers who encourage him to become more independent ... and with a little help from the music of Elvis.
Music can be a real healer and for Trevor Hardman, his medicine of choice is Elvis Presley.
After reaching rock bottom, Trevor felt he had lost everything as his marriage broke down, his business fell apart and he became reliant on alcohol and would spend days on end sat in his home staring into space.
However, with the help of support workers from Community Life Choices, Trevor is turning his life around and his confidence is growing.
With their help, and by listening to Elvis Presley music, Trevor feels a lot happier and more optimistic about the future and he even makes support staff smile by belting out Elvis tunes to them.
Trevor, 62, who lives in Deepdale, Preston, has schizophrenia and is alcohol dependent.
However, he was once a successful business owners running two family butchers T & PA Hardman - one in Penwortham, near Preston, and one in Blackpool.
Community Life Choices, based in Preston, has supported Trevor from an emergency residential placement into a new home and support staff assist him daily with his living skills to keep him independent.
Trevor suffered hardships early on in life after losing both his parents at a young age.
Trevor explains: “I grew up in Longridge and I lost my dad when I was two and my mum when I was 14.
“My dad was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 36 and my mum died of cancer of the throat and TB of the lungs at the age of 49.
“I do not remember my dad at all as I was only two when he died.
“But I was very close to my mum. She was very independent woman and was a great mum and looked after us all really well.
“There were five of us altogether and I was the next to youngest.
“Losing my mum when I was only 14 was horrible, especially as I didn’t have a dad either.
“I was devastated at losing my mum.
“My older sister who was three years older than me and was married took me in and looked after me after our mum died.
“My younger brother who was 12 at the time went to my eldest brother’s home and was brought up there.”
Despite the tragedies that struck him early in life, Trevor worked hard to forge a life for himself.
At the age of 15, he began an apprenticeship in butchery with Coulthurst Butchers in Penwortham and made it his trade.
Trevor recalls: “When I was 17, I got my own flat.
“I saved up while working and at age of 21, I had saved up £10,000 so used it to start my own business.
“I used that money to buy my own shop and I also rented one.
“I had two butchers shops - one in Penwortham and one in Leyland.
“I then closed the Leyland rented shop and got a shop in Blackpool and rented that one.
“My butchers shops were called T & PA Hardman. The shop in Blackpool was on Devonshire Road and I had it for four years.
“I was quite successful at being a butcher and I really enjoyed my work.
“I enjoyed being part of the community, chatting to people and the skilled nature of the work.
“I had a real eye for finding good cuts of meat and I enjoyed chatting to customers and serving them and ensuring they were happy with what they bought.”
Trevor got married in 1978 at the age of 25 after meeting his wife on a bus coming back from Longridge.
He was married for 10 years before getting divorced and he says it was around this time that things in his life started going wrong.
Trevor remembers: “I lost everything. It was disastrous.
“Things were terrible and I started drinking a lot and I had a mental breakdown.
“It was as if I just wasn’t there. I spend my days just sitting in the house.”
Trevor’s butchers business ended after he decided to get rid of it after a change of landlord and an increase in rent.
He then began drinking regularly and admits he drank heavily for a number of years.
He ended up with no business and no home and felt he had reached an ultimate low.
It was discovered that Trevor has an undiagnosed symptom of Korsakoff’s syndrome, a brain disorder usually associated with heavy alcohol consumption over a long period.
Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine and is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse.
Community Life Choices supported Trevor from an emergency residential placement into his new home in Deepdale.
Trevor says: “I have been in this home for more than two years and the staff from Community Life Choices come in every day to help look after me.
“They make sure I take my medication as I have to take my tablets three times a day.
“They help me in all sorts of ways and are very good to me.
“Elvis music has really helped me too.
“I have been an Elvis fan ever since I was a young child and I sing to my support workers and sing songs like ‘Love Me Tender’ and ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’
“I love Elvis music and it makes me happy.”
Kim Greenwood, care co-ordinator at Community Life Choices who is one of Trevor’s support workers, says the change in Trevor since they first started caring for him has been astounding.
She says: “When we first started seeing Trevor, he was very reclusive and did not engage with his support workers.
“He has changed dramatically. We support Trevor daily and make sure he is getting a balanced diet.
“We do things like help him with money management and medicine management and help him to do his shopping. We also do things like make sure he is having a shower and getting his hair cut.
“Trevor has got a medical condition and has to take medication due to alcohol dependence.
“We take Trevor to the doctors if necessary and give him a daily allowance and we manage all his bills to keep his alcohol spending under control.
“Trevor is still drinking but it is restricted in agreement with his GP and Trevor’s agreement.
“We are prompting Trevor to do things for himself rather than doing them for him.
“We just make sure he is all right. Trevor loves Elvis and sings Elvis songs all the time and is always humming a tune.
“Trevor loves going shopping. He really tries to be active and do things and is much happier.
“Trevor continues to progress with support from Community Life Choices.
“His confidence is growing, enabling him to go clothes and food shopping and enjoy going out for meals.
“This is something he struggled with before and it’s great to see him out and about with me.
“It’s lovely to see him engage with people as we do day-to-day activities together. He even blasted out some Elvis in Sainsburys the other day!
“Trevor is now confident enough to go for walks on his own and has built relationships with people he chats to on the way.
“He is also looking forward to getting a season ticket to watch his beloved Preston North End.
“I’ve been working with Trevor for eight months and I’m really proud of how much he’s engaged with the support we provide for him and the people in his community.
“He could have easily have not bothered but he’s really tried hard and made an effort.
“Trevor is very happy and cheery and I really enjoy seeing him every week.
“Seeing these little achievements and seeing his progress makes the job worthwhile.“