Shaun Attwood
Year 9 students Jacob Mathews, Henrietta Nichols, Noah Booker and David Musgrave with Shaun Attwood.
Cautionary drugs tale told to students

Our Year 9 students heard a powerful anti-drugs message when reformed drug dealer Shaun Attwood came to school to give a thought-provoking talk and presentation on Thursday 3 March.

A hall of thirteen and fourteen year olds were suitably gripped when they heard Shaun's hard-hitting tale about drugs and crime, which detailed the consequences of ignoring the warnings he had received at school.

Widnes-born Shaun moved to Arizona in 1991 and worked his way up to becoming a top producing stock broker, making millions during the dot.com bubble. Not content with financial success however, he threw rave parties and headed up a criminal drugs gang that distributed ecstasy.

His whole world changed in May 2002, when a heavily armed SWAT police unit smashed his door down. Shaun was eventually convicted of drug offences and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. Part of his time was spent in Arizona's notorious Maricopa County Jail, run by America's so-called toughest sheriff, Joe Arpaio.

On remand for 26 months, Shaun started the first prison blog Jon's Jail Journal, which turned the international media spotlight on the horrific conditions. The blog featured stories about gang members and guards murdering inmates, dead rats found in the food and cockroach-infested cells.

His compelling story has featured on the BBC, Sky News and worldwide on National Geographic Channel as an episode of Banged Up Abroad. Shaun has also published three books detailing his life story. Since his release from prison in 2007, he has become a passionate anti-drugs campaigner, and now tours schools to warn young people about the dangers of meddling with drugs.

Year 9 student Noah Booker said: "Shaun's talk was very honest and a real eye opener. I didn't realise that prisons could be such violent and dangerous places! His horrific experience is a real deterrent to anyone thinking of getting involved in drugs. It drove home the message that if you act illegally you can expect to be punished."

Shaun was invited to come after making a big impression with students and parents alike with a talk he gave last year as part of Campden Literary Festival. He said: "After the tremendous reception I received at the festival, I was particularly delighted to be invited back to tell my cautionary tale of drugs and prison.

"After the presentation, the students asked endless questions, which really illustrated that they had absorbed the moral of my story, in terms of thinking about the consequences of their actions, and to stay away from drugs due to the dangers they lead to."

Our Assistant Principal, Danny Hilditch, who organised the event said: "It's important to show students that choices they make in early life can lead to consequences that they can't yet imagine. A powerful message presented expertly well, creates a potent message."

We are very grateful to Chipping Campden Rotary Club for sponsoring this event.

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