A Middlesbrough trader has told a national TV audience how his new business is helping re-build his life after years of struggle with his mental health.
Dave Worton – who opened Inspired Photography Services in Middlesbrough’s Dundas Indoor Market in September – appeared on Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4, presented by Middlesbrough’s Steph McGovern.
Dave had a successful career in retail management but a succession of personal traumas and tragedies became too much for him. “It just hit me big time. If you can picture a post box full of letters and they were just constantly overflowing and I couldn’t take any more. I was planning on taking my own life,” he told Steph.
The support of his GP and a therapist pulled him back from the brink, but – apart from his young son – he still lacked a purpose.
“I’d been a Boro fan but lost interest. I pushed people away, made some great friends and lost some great friends,” he said.
Steph, who wanted Dave to appear on her programme after reading about his story, described him as “a talented photographer who had captured on camera how beautiful the Boro is” and photography had helped him get out of a dark hole.
“I bought a digital camera and things we take for granted that you pass every day you just see it through a different light when you’re actually up close and look at the history,” Dave told her.
His passion for photography has resulted in the shop where Dave has created a portrait studio alongside walls full of framed photographs for sale. They were taken by him and other photographers he has met who have also had problems with their mental health.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for two or three years to showcase my work and to help other people, because I always feel that there’s someone worse off than me,” he said.
The live interview ended with Steph saying she will visit the shop next time she is in Middlesbrough and Dave, tongue-in-cheek, suggesting they both wear Boro shirts the next time he is on her show.
Afterwards Dave said he had been nervous but hoped his story will help people experiencing similar problems.
According to the Office for National Statistics three-quarters of the people who take their own lives are men and the North East has the highest incidents of suicide – almost double the figure for London.
“If I can help just one person stop and think, I’ll continue to speak about mental health,” said Dave.
Meanwhile Inspired Photography Services has made a strong start. “I was realistic about my expectations of how busy it would be, but it’s far exceeded what I thought. I’m absolutely loving it,” said Dave, who has just introduced a framing service at the shop.
David Harris, the manager of Dundas Indoor Market, said: “Dave’s doubly brave for going on a live TV show and then talking about such personal and painful experiences. He’s already become a popular figure here and we’ll do all we can to help his business go from strength to strength.”
Dave’s shop is one of several newcomers to the market. The S & J Sugar Cave sweet shop opened last month, joining PM Toys and Collectables – run by brothers Paul and Michael Johnson – and Simply Babywear, which offers a range of clothing for tiny three-pound premature babies to three-year-old toddlers.