FOR 14 years Bournemouth’s Providence Projects have been helping to turn around lives ravaged by drink and drugs.

The pioneering Bournemouth addiction treatment centre has helped between 4,000 and 5,000 people during that time – including former footballer Paul Gascoigne and DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim.

On Sunday some 400 former clients and their families attended the annual reunion, held at the town’s Royal Bath Hotel.

It was a poignant day for treatment director Paul Spanjar.

“It’s just incredibly touching,” he added. “I think what the reunion does is help me realise the enormity of what happens here. It’s not just the clients – we see the effect on families as well, who are normally distraught when we first speak to them. Families’ lives are rebuilt as well.”

Among the great success stories is Suzie, 40, from Bourne-mouth, who was one of the first to be treated by the centre when it opened in 1996. She celebrated 14 years sober on Monday.

After more than a decade using drugs and alcohol on London’s party scene, she reached her darkest point when she was paranoid, isolated, hearing voices, terrified and suicidal.

Finally her parents persuaded her to seek help. She met Providence Projects founder Steve Spiegel at a Cocaine Anonymous meeting and he told her that he was starting a treatment centre.

It changed her life. The former estate agent is now happy healthy and a proud mum of two young boys.

Her regular life, which she once would have dismissed as dull and tried to escape though drugs and booze, she now cherishes.

“Instead of being ungrateful, I’m unbelievably grateful for the 24 hours I get to live each day. I go to bed grateful I have made good use of the precious time God’s given me.”

Also at Sunday’s event was Providence patron Chris Difford, of the group Squeeze, who went through treatment for alcoholism 18 years ago.

He has been working with clients at music therapy sessions and helped them create songs for an album, Turn Around, which is on sale to raise money to pay for treatment at the centre for those who cannot afford it.