Cromer ex-addict and robber in crutches walk to Yarmouth for charities

A seriously-ill former armed robber is set to walk 41 miles on crutches to help two charities which have helped him after years of abuse, addiction and prostitution.

Ian Graham, who has three broken bones in his spine and incurable sclerosis of the liver, will walk from his home on Church Street, Cromer, to Yarmouth's Marina Centre and hopes to raise �1,000 with the feat.

Mr Graham, 46, has turned his life around in recent years but does not know how much longer he has to live and is desperate to contribute something positive to society while he is still well enough.

He will share the cash between The Junction, which supports people and their families with addiction problems, and Break, the Sheringham-based charity which provides respite breaks for people with learning disabilities. He works as a volunteer in the Break's Cromer shop and says the companionship and support of its staff help him believe that it's worth getting out of bed each morning.

The unwanted child of a Scottish prostitute, Mr Graham says he was physically and sexually abused by his mother and her clients. He was taken into care and eventually adopted after she threw him over the bannisters one night, angered by his crying.

But he suffered further abuse at the hands of an adopted older brother and a teacher in whom he tried to confide and ran away to London, aged 13, where he sank into a life of vice, addicted to alcohol and a cocktail of drugs paid for through male prostitution.

When he later moved to Norfolk, living in Yarmouth and Norwich, the need for money to feed his addictions led him to hold up the city's Silver Road Post Office, in October 1990, with an imitation gun, and later the Sainsbury's petrol station in Thorpe, where he pretended to have a gun in his pocket. In 2001 he was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for holding up Yarmouth's Regent Road Post Office.

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'I was in that terrible situation for 28 years but now it is behind me and I am a new person,' said Mr Graham who has been drug free for eight years and has not had an alcoholic drink for about eight months.

'For years I did nothing but take and take - now I want to pay back. I am in tremendous pain and my health is deteriorating quite rapidly. My liver is in a very desperate state and the way things are looking, I'm last on the list when it comes to transplants.

'I decided, when I was told by doctors what the final outcome was for me, that I would draw up a list of what I would like to do before I begin that final sleep.'

He said The Junction, on Garden Street, Cromer, which is part of the Norwich-based Matthew Project, gave him great support and he is working with the charity to launch a Narcotics Anonymous service.

The walk is planned for August 25 and Mr Graham is in daily training. 'I live for each day,' he said. 'I'm on quite strong prescribed opiate drugs for the pain but I'm fully committed to this walk. If I have to crawl on my hands and knees, I will get to that finish line.'

* To sponsor Mr Graham ring Martin Green at Break 01603 670107, Rachel Esposito at The Junction 01263 510900 or Ian Graham 0788 4237 356.

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