Simon Edwards tuned his life around after a suicide attempt in prison
The ‘go-to’ man for some of Britain’s toughest gang leaders is now a preacher.
Simon Edwards was told he could spend the rest of his life behind bars after a string of armed robberies.
But after attempting suicide then being placed in the same cell as a born-again Christian, Simon turned to God.
Simon has now revealed incredible plans to fill an entire football ground for a Christian men’s event.
The former hard man runs his own organisation and has booked Stoke City Football Club’s stadium for the event ‘We Are Men United’ featuring boxer Nigel Benn, Andrew Palau and other big names on May 27.
He said: ”The event is a national gathering of Christian men, on a scale that has not been seen for many years.
”It will be a truly incredible day. We clearly have a big vision for this event, but we serve a big God and we believe that all things are possible through Him.”
Simon’s incredible transformation comes after years of crime, violence and drug abuse.
Having suffered in Britain’s foster care system before turning to drugs and crime, he was told he may never be released from prison.
He told New Life: “I felt such shame that I’d left a family behind for this. I had also created a lot of victims from so many crimes that I’d committed.
“My life went from burglary to car theft, to drug dealing to debt collecting, to violence and everything in between. I owned a roofing company with many men under me.
“I had money, cars, vans and status; all the trappings of a man doing what he wanted, when he wanted and to whom he wanted.
Simon is organising the We Are Men United event at Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium football ground (Picture: We Are Men United / YouTube)
“Chuck in a couple of police sieges, more violence, and many threats on my life, from the drug gangs I’d robbed or upset. Life seemed great to me – I loved it!”
But the thrill of crime and police chases turned nasty when drugs began to grip Simon’s life.
“I discovered crack cocaine – that is when my life got really dysfunctional,” he admits.
“I had to move up a step with the madness, which eventually led to me facing a life sen-
tence in jail with a minimum of six years.”
Simon’s path to destruction was largely provoked from a childhood of abuse, spending most of his young life in the care system.
“My earliest memory is abuse,” he said.
“I remember going from several children’s homes to various foster parents. Later in life I found out I had 25 placements in my care order, 18 of those were before I was six.
“I was abused, I was scared, I was lonely and by the age of six I hated the world and did not trust anyone.
This feeling of loneliness was to become so deep that it over took my whole life.”
When Simon began his life sentence, even prison couldn’t stop him from feeding his drug addiction.
Life was at an all-time low for Simon, but then God stepped in
“My head was messed up, but I had more in me yet… more wheeling, dealing and drug-taking. Now I was addicted to medication on a massive scale and with that came more violence.
“Two-and-a-half years into this sentence I couldn’t cope any more. My relationship had broken down, I wasn’t seeing my daughter and I was heavily addicted to prescription drugs.”
It was at this point Simon came to the conclusion that the only way out was to end his life.
“After taking packets of paracetamol and other pain killers and writing letters to my loved ones, I awoke to spewing up,” he said.
“This was not the plan. I was rushed to hospital, cuffed up to the prison officers and in a bad way. The events after this were so mad that I look back now and can see the Holy Spirit at work.”
Life was at an all-time low for Simon, but then God stepped in. He was transferred to Dovegate Prison near to Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, where he ended up sharing a cell with a born-again Christian.
He said: “When I went into cell 15, it was like walking into a church with Bibles and crosses. My head was spinning. I was thinking what’s this? There were 1,100 prisoners in that prison; over 700 cells and I end up in this one. Then in walks a man: ‘Hello, my name’s Darren, I’m a born-again Christian. Do you want me to pack all this stuff away?’”
Simon was instantly struck by Darren’s humility and on September 18, 2009 at 10.30pm in cell 15 of HMP Dovegate, Darren led Simon in a prayer of salvation.
With an instant passion to share his newfound belief with others, Simon became an unlikely evangelist whilst behind bars and would preach the gospel and pray for other inmates.
When his sentence finally ended in 2009, he started Walk Ministries, a charity helping former inmates and drug addicts find employment, receive discipleship and other practical help. The team trains men in various trades and runs their own business ‘Cornerstone’, which gives the workers experience.