The ‘heartfelt’ story of a man who overcame a troubled childhood, mental illness and homelessness to be awarded an MBE is to be published.
The Rev Mark Edwards’ book Life After Care follows his struggles with mental illness after he left local authority care as a child in the late 1970s.
After trying to take his own life several times, Mark ended up in a mental asylum, later becoming homeless. He was written off in his youth as a delinquent. But the clergyman’s remarkable transformation saw him go on to find happiness with a family of his own, to be ordained by the church and be awarded an MBE for his work to help others.
The book follows his journey with anxiety, panic attacks and depression, and the impact his childhood had on his mental health. Much of the book is made up of diary entries he made as a teenager.
“I wanted to remove the stigma surrounding mental health,” said Mark. “My motivation is to show that mental health is not a barrier to living a good wholesome and positive life and that it is possible to move beyond being a victim - to being a victor.”
A former pupil of Carton Road and Tower Road primary schools in Boston, and Gleed Boys secondary school in Spalding, Mark was placed into care at just three years-old following the breakdown of his parents’ marriage.
“I spent the early part of my childhood being shunted between my home and various foster homes,” said Mark who spent the final seven years of care at a children’s home in Lincolnshire.
“After I left in 1978 I went on a spiral of decline. I started drinking and eventually tried to take my own life.”
Mark was sectioned under the mental health act in 1981, and at the age of 19, he was left homeless - sleeping on the floor of a church.
“The minister took pity on me and helped me find a bed-sit,” explained Mark. “It was during this time that I came to faith and started to get involved in voluntary work with a community church.”
Mark went on to meet his wife through the church and start his own family. Although still occasionally battling mental illness from his past, he went back into education and was later ordained into the Diocese of Newcastle where he now lives.
A prominent community figure, he became a Lifeboat crew member and worked with various groups trying to improve the life of those from deprived areas.
His selfless work saw him awarded an MBE in 2010.
The book, published by Trigger Press, will be out in October.