Burrell Creek man goes from prison and addiction to winning achievement awards at TAFE

Award winner: David Boyle received an achievement award in 2016 at Taree TAFE's award ceremony.
Award winner: David Boyle received an achievement award in 2016 at Taree TAFE's award ceremony.

Running a hobby farm, working in construction, and completing a double diploma is a lot to take on but for Burrell Creek local and father of eight David Boyle any challenge is an opportunity for growth.

David is no stranger to challenges. As a young construction manager earning big money and living in Gosford David found himself in an unhappy marriage, spiralling into alcoholism and falling foul of the law.

David jokes that when he was in the nadir of his addiction there was a chair permanently reserved for him at Central Coast Leagues and Gosford Courthouse.

David hit rock bottom when he spent eight days incarcerated at Silverwater Prison, following a series of broken bonds and misdemeanours, sharing a cell with a six-foot stand over man who stole David’s prison amenities.

“I knew then that I had to make changes. I was numb and realised that I was in a dangerous place and I had to change. I was incarcerated with people convicted of rape and murder and that was not a safe haven from life,” David said.

A stint at The Glen Centre, a rehabilitation facility for recovering addicts, and the support of new partner Gabby helped David turn his life around.

“Without Gabby I wouldn’t be able to achieve half of what I have. Together we are building a life that I can be proud of and I credit much of my recovery to her unyielding support,” David said

David Boyle, Gabby, and their and two youngest children Damian and Elissa.

David Boyle, Gabby, and their and two youngest children Damian and Elissa.

Ten years on David’s life is completely different.

In January 2015 David, Gabby and their young family relocated to the Mid North Coast and bought a hobby farm at Burrell Creek where they breed German shepherds, birds and agist horses.

In 2016 David completed the Certificate IV in Community Services at Taree TAFE and has just commenced a double diploma in Community Services and Mental Health, something he never envisaged was possible.

“Studying has helped me gain confidence in my abilities and realise how important education is in transforming lives,” David said.

“I’ve been studying people as much as anything – even the most confident and successful people have fears, they just hide them better. Now my life is geared towards helping people, I don’t believe in judgement, people make mistakes but they can turn their lives around, I know because I am living proof.”

David is a strong advocate for TAFE and has been recognised by his teachers and peers as a thought leader, winning an achievement award in 2016.

TAFE Learner Support teacher Gemma Bellanto believes that David is exactly the sort of person that the community services sector needs.

“David is a positive person, a great support for his peers, an empath and a great listener. He has a great sense of humour and is generous with his time often helping TAFE promote courses,” Gemma said.

Taree TAFE offers courses in community services, disability, mental health and counselling and is enrolling for 2017 now.