HUNDREDS gathered to celebrate the blessing of a banner created to promote the recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
The Recovery Banner, which formed part of the Durham Miners Gala procession, was designed by those who use the Recovery Academy Durham, the community drugs service and HMP Durham I Wing.
Drug and Alcohol Commissioning Team commissioning support officer Victoria McManus said: “All of the banners on the march were blessed on the day of the gala but as we were not colliery-affiliated ours was not included.
“We were however offered the opportunity of having our own blessing and decided to use the occasion to celebrate all of the hard work and determination by our service users and staff and demonstrate the achievable goal of personal recovery and the development of visible recovery within communities.”
The blessing, performed at Durham Cathedral by the Vice Dean, Canon David Kennedy, followed a service opened by County Durham NHS director of public health Anna Lynch.
Mrs Lynch said: “My younger brother suffered from addiction and it was a long and difficult road to recovery.
“Therefore the recovery agenda is one that is very close to my heart and I am committed to ensuring that we continue to provide the very best health services for service users across County Durham.”
The banner, which has already made an appearance at a march in Brighton, has also inspired a number of other projects, including a choir, the Voices of Recovery, with the group given two standing ovations at the cathedral service.
Lead therapist at the academy, Kevin Hunt, who spoke about his own road to conquering addiction, said: “Service users are not bad people trying to become good, they are sick people trying to become well.
“When we opened the Recovery Academy we gave the message that there is hope and many of the people here tonight are testament to that.
“The recovery banner provides us all with that symbol of hope and achievement and shows our clear purpose of supporting visible recovery in County Durham.”