Steve Shelton emailed me through the Sell My Story contact form because he wanted to raise the issue of gambling by telling his real-life story.
From the age of 19, Steve had enjoyed a flutter on the horses, the football and later roulette. Throughout his twenties he’d had a few times when he’d let his gambling get the better of him. But when he met Michelle he believed he had his gambling habit under control. And in fact, although she knew he did gamble, she believed it was just a few pounds while out with his mates at the weekend.
In fact, it was more than that – something for a long time Steve, who worked in recruitment, even denied to himself. Although Steve made little bets, just a few pounds at a time, they really added up and it wasn’t very long before Michelle began to notice they were overdrawn and also money went missing in the house. Despite this Michelle believed Steve when he said he wouldn’t gamble. The couple married and have two adorable children. Life should have been perfect. But unbeknown to Michelle Steve was continuing to gamble and finding other ways to raise the cash. He raided the children’s money boxes and cancelled their insurance policies.
The crunch came when he was made redundant. The children were small but Michelle went back to work and as their mortgage was covered by loss of job insurance, at least she was reassured that would be paid for a year.
But when a pipe burst in their home, she found out Steve had not only cancelled the insurance policy but had also gambled payments meant for the mortgage.
Shockingly he’d also run up £50K in debt and they were made bankrupt, losing their home. Michelle tried to forgive Steve – who said he would get counselling – but when she discovered he’d been gambling again, she decided to leave. She has now filed for divorce.
Steve and I discussed telling his story with Michelle – it felt only right that the whole family should be involved. Both Michelle and Steve told their stories in diaries in the Daily Mirror while for the women’s magazine, the story was told from Michelle’s point of view.
Steve, who is now in counselling with Gamblers Anonymous and who has stopped gambling, said: “I wanted to raise the whole issue of gambling – I only hope my story will help others seek help before it’s too late.”
Michelle said: “As soon as I got the paper and magazine I could see it was written exactly as it had been read back to me. Doing this has brought closure to what was a terrible time.”
Meanwhile, Gamcare, a charity that helps families affected by gambling, has contacted me to say they were pleased to see this issue raised. They add anyone can contact them in complete confidence. Contact Gamcare here: Gamcare help.
If you have an issue you would like to see raised in a newspaper and magazine, please contact me directly for a confidential chat: My Story