Welwyn Garden City drug and alcohol worker receives Royal Wedding invitation
PUBLISHED: 12:23 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:23 11 April 2018
A Welwyn Garden City charity worker received his invite to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding this week while celebrating the charity’s tenth anniversary.
Joe Heeney, 52, CEO of Resolve, got his invitation from the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire on Friday, but is unsure of who put his name forward.
Mr Heeney is among hundreds of members of the public who have been specially invited to Windsor Castle on May 19, including victims from the Manchester Arena bombing.
Last year Mr Heeney got married himself and says he “truly admires” Prince Harry and Prince William so is “honoured” to attend.
Speaking of his marriage he said: “My wife is a baker so I’m going to try and lose a stone in the next six weeks so I can look a bit fitter in my suit.
“I’m shocked that I’ve been invited as I wasn’t expecting anything like that to be in my post.”
He started Resolve, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity, in 2008 after the only service to help addicts in Welwyn Hatfield closed down and wasn’t replaced.
Mr Heeney, who was dealing with drug and alcohol addictions himself, and three others teamed up to kick start a service in Welwyn Garden City - where the head office still remains today in Woodhall Community Centre.
Mr Heeney told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that his addictions started when he was just 15 and began with alcohol and cannabis abuse.
By the time he was 22 and was working in the fire service he had become what is known as a “greedy addict” and was taking any substance he could get his hands on, except from substances that require a needle to be inserted such as heroin.
Mr Heeney also struggled with polydrug use, which is when people use more than one drug at one time to intensify the effects but also making them even more dangerous.
He got the help he needed and overcame his addictions and used his recovery to focus on creating Resolve and helping others overcome their enslavement to drugs and alcohol.
Ten years later, after working many years voluntarily, the charity is now able to pay staff and has branched out to Hatfield and most recently, Hitchin.
Describing his highlights, he said that receiving his invite to the royal wedding was up there at the top along with the charity receiving its first lottery grant, and getting his High Sheriff Award.
Mr Heeney said: “I really admire Harry for a lot of things including his career in the army and how openly him and William speak of losing their mum and how life has been tough for them also.
“They have great characters and they are who they are.”