A FORMER drug user and alcoholic from Newquay has been described as an "inspiration" after she turned her life around to help others.
As recently as 2009, Louise McKenny, 40, was regularly downing booze until she passed out and was forced to give up her NHS job of 11 years.
But instead of allowing her life to spiral out of control, she sought treatment and embarked upon a string of courses and training programmes.
Now she has qualified as a freelance tutor who helps people rediscover their self-esteem and get back into work.
Louise, who won a national Adult Learners' Week award in May, said: "I cannot start to describe how much my life has changed in the past two and a half years. I used to drink until I passed out and I thought that other people who had a couple of drinks then stopped just had more willpower than me – I didn't believe they didn't want to pass out too.
"Now I feel like I am part of the world and have a purpose in life. I really want to go down the road of inspiring people, motivational coaching. It's all very well becoming clean and sober but then you have to become responsible and accountable."
Louise moved to Newquay from Yorkshire in her twenties after years of family holidays in the resort.
But she became hooked on drugs and alcohol, which effectively ended her career in the health service three years ago.
While undergoing treatment, she decided to volunteer at the Alpaca therapy farm at Tregaswith, near St Columb, helping young offenders and people with autism.
She then completed a training course with SHARE – an Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) service for young people.
Louise volunteered with the organisation for over a year and gained an NVQ Level 3 qualification.
She then contacted Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C), which uses European Social Fund (ESF) Convergence to help people into work, where she became a client, learnt employability skills and later became a volunteer.
When tutors saw her potential, Louise herself became a tutor on CN4C's New Work Programme, providing advice to other long-term unemployed clients.
With more support from ESF Convergence, Louise has completed a teaching course to develop her skills as a tutor.
This year she went self employed as a freelance tutor and has further teaching qualifications in mind.
Mark Yeoman, head of ESF Convergence Communication, said: "For Louise, ESF Convergence investment has been used as part of a raft of support to help her tackle a range of issues, completely change the direction of her life and successfully return to work, using her own experiences to support others. She is an inspiration to us all."