A FORMER addict with serious mental health issues turned his life around with exercise, and is now encouraging others to do the same.

Horwich resident Sam Ormrod was drinking every day with obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoid psychosis, blowing up to £500 a week on cocaine and alcohol, until he found relief through therapy and exercise.

Now a marathon runner, Mr Ormrod set up a running group for people with mental health conditions, he is now organising weekend events to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise for anyone struggling.

His most recent group run captured the attention of 60 people who came out to join in, despite the windy weather, on the last Sunday in January. All participants completed the fully marshalled two mile route.

Before the event, runners wrote down what they found exercise gave them. Heartfelt messages included: "When I feel like my mind is weak and broken, running reminds me that I am strong. It empowers me and reminds me that I can do this and things will be ok."

Mr Ormrod said: "It was a very proud moment for me as this was the first of many events that I have organised.

"The event was to show that exercise can help mental health problems in some way.

"I had a lot of people come up to me after the event and say how nervous, anxious and stressed they were before the event and how much more calm and relaxed they were after, which is fantastic."

He added: "If one person starts to exercise after coming then that is an event well worth putting on."