TV's Rev Richard Coles: 'Northampton hospital staff saved my life'

Reverend Richard Coles, the Northamptonshire broadcaster, has said a stay as an inpatient at a Northampton hospital saved his life.

Richard, who was a pop star in the 1980s and is now a vicar in Finedon, has been talking about his life changing time at Isham House, on the St Andrew's Hospital site, as a teenager.

Rev Richard Coles visited St Andrew's Hospital

Rev Richard Coles visited St Andrew's Hospital

He had gone there due to a mental health crisis and came away with a new outlook on life.

"I was an inpatient here myself when I was 17, in 1979 when I had an episode of clinical depression and a crisis which followed.

"It was just fortunate that my mum and dad had health insurance that generously provided for me to come here.

"I was an inpatient at Isham House in group therapy there and it saved my life, literally saved my life."

Richard spoke about the 'very humane regime' at Isham House at the time, which he said had been the case from its establishment under a different name.

He said: "Northampton County Asylum sounds like something from a horror film, but of course asylums were there to provide refuges for people.

"One of the reasons why that mental health crisis happened was because I was coming to terms with my sexuality.

"And as a gay man in Kettering in 1978, there wasn't really much sense of as life rich in possibility lying dead ahead, I have to say.

"It was a much less tolerant world then than it is today and that was a real struggle.

"Partly that was an external thing, finding your place in the world but you internalise that stuff and that was a huge deal for me."

Richard said that care from two psychiatrists in particular, Colin Wilson and Dr 'Lottie' Lottinger made the real difference to him.

He said: "Coming here in an enlightened regime made a big difference to me

"They were just not bothered about me being gay."

He gave me a Jeffrey Weeks book called 'Coming Out', which was an absolutely seminal work in gay liberation but also in reconciling and integrating that into part of an identity that was just fine and nothing remarkable.

"In those days it was really quite unusual.

"And that's what saved my life, I think. It just made me realise that all that internalised self-loathing which was the kind of inheritance of people who grew up in a world where being gay was a criminal identity.

"Growing up and realising that was me was really tough."

Richard was talking during a visit to St Andrew' Hospital as part of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) History Month.

St Andrew's is holding various events for both staff and patients to come together and celebrate the LGBT community.

Richard took the time to meet with both staff and patients, before taking a tour of the hospital grounds and both adults and adolescent wards.