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BARRY SCOOPS MAN OF OLDHAM AWARD
May 4, 2007
Man of Oldham
A CAMPAIGNER whose work has helped hundreds of tranquilliser addicts to transform their lives has been named Man of Oldham 2007.
Barry Haslam, of Uppermill, lost 10 years of his life when he was prescribed benzodiazepines for depression.
His addiction to Ativan left him brain damaged and with a catalogue of health problems.
Despite this, he has campaigned for 21 years for more help for addicts and tougher prescribing guidelines.
The 63-year-old runs Oldham's Tranx group for addicts of prescription drugs and helped to set up the UK's first withdrawal service in Oldham.
His lobbying has seen him make several visits to the House of Commons and in 2004 he took his fight to Brussels.
Mr Haslam paid tribute to his wife, Susan, and daughters, Susan (38) and Katherine (36), after he scooped the Man of Oldham title in a ceremony at the White Hart, Lydgate, yesterday.
He said: "I was very surprised. It is an honour and I want to devote a lot of it to my family.
"Their support was one of the reasons I came through and came off drugs.
"They stuck by me and I was lucky in that respect because this has split a lot of families.
"When I was on drugs I lost 10 years of my life. I do not remember anything. My daughters were six and seven and I missed them growing up.
"The fact that I can now see my grandchildren, who are 10, six and three, grow up is very special."
However, the former accountant insisted that he would not change anything and he will continue to work for the 1.5 million tranquilliser addicts in the UK, of whom there are more than 5,000 in Oldham.He added: "The prescribing levels of benzodiazepines are coming down, but there are similar drugs out there called Z drugs.
"What they have done is transfer people from one addictive drug to another and I am fighting to break that cycle.
"What is needed to tackle this issue is the political will."
Mr Haslam is the seventh holder of the title which celebrates community contribution.
He follows in the footsteps of well-known faces such as political stalwart Sid Jacobs and former Oldham head teacher Colin Bell.
The contest is run by Dr Kershaw's Hospice in conjunction with the Oldham Evening Chronicle and the winner is chosen by an independent panel of judges from Rotary clubs in and around Oldham.
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