AT the age of 23, John Large was facing a long stretch behind bars for his involvement in a drugs network which distributed cocaine across the north west.
But, after five years in prison, the 29-year-old from Orford has turned his back on his former life.
He said: “When you go to jail and you lose loved ones – it may be obvious but it only hits you when you’re inside.
“I went to jail in January 2011 and in February 2011 my son was born.
“I was only able to see my little lad for five years through a prison visit.
“It is things like that which people don’t see. There are the things that you miss out on.”
After leaving school at 16, John started his first job in Liverpool building boats.
To let off steam, John would regularly buy cocaine on a night out.
He said: “When it first started I would get a little bit more and I would sell it to my mates so I didn’t have to pay for mine.
“It escalated from there.
“It was stupid amounts we were getting and we were sending it all over the country.
“It was a big conspiracy. We got 100 years between us all and I was at the very top of the conspiracy.”
John, who is dad to Tyler, nine, Alfie, six, and Darcey, 18 months, was arrested alongside 18 other suspects where he worked as an ‘operation manager’ organising large deliveries of cocaine from Manchester.
He spent a number of years at HMP Oakwood in Wolverhampton before he was transferred to HMP Thorn Cross in September 2013.
It was at the open prison where he was taken on at Timpson’s.
He was based at the Northwich branch where he was driven to work by a prison driver but after being released from prison in 2015 he was handed a permanent job at the Altrincham shop.
John admits had it not been for the support of Timpson’s he might have fallen back into bad habits.
“There are a lot of people who wouldn’t give you a job after being in prison for five years.
“They gave me a job and support.
“When I was in jail my mum passed away to terminal cancer which was very hard,” he said.
“My friends helped to pay for the funeral but I didn’t have the money to get my mum’s name put on the head stone as she was buried with my gran and granddad.
“I heard about the Timpson’s dream come true scheme.
“I wrote a letter to James Timpson explaining my story and he said it doesn’t matter about the cost we’ll sort it.”
While John believes a thank you will never be enough to repay Timpson’s, he hopes by sharing his story it will help others to turn their lives around.