Patrick Foster

Before the fun stops, stop.

(Raising awareness of gambling addiction through education)

‘Addiction can happen to anyone, even those we least expect’

Former professional cricketer and independent school teacher offers a telling insight into the life of a compulsive gambler and how addiction can take a stranglehold of anyone – even those you least expect.

Patrick shares his journey, from the idyllic childhood and upbringing in Kenya’s Rift Valley and his education at Oundle, to the point of no return when he found himself standing at the edge of a train platform seconds away from ending his life.

“It is almost impossible to imagine what it is like in life to reach the point when you actually want it to end. Life is the most precious gift and yet something had driven me to want to throw it away as it seemed to be the only and by far the best option.”

In this compelling talk, Patrick reflects on how his compulsive gambling addiction completely monopolised his entire teaching career and how circumstances and his outlook on life caused him to adopt two very contrasting personas. He explores how his perception of what others thought, his unrelenting desire for perfection and the high expectations of himself, led him to extraordinary measures in search of the ‘intensity’ that he believed was missing in his life.

The link between gambling and sport is obvious for all to see. The instant access online coupled with everyday exposure means that this addiction is at the fingertips of young people every second of the day. Obsession is a recurring theme throughout Patrick’s talk, not just focusing on gambling but also on phones and the link between screens and other addictions that can remain unnoticed until it’s too late.

Learning that vulnerability is a sign of strength and the ability to reach out for help shows courage and not weakness is an important message in this talk. Recognition that loving yourself for who you are and caring for yourself is the key to happiness. The ways to avoid addiction is the lesson that Patrick wants pupils and parents to take away from his presentation.

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