Michael Josephson MBE is living proof that you can triumph over even the darkest of situations. Suffering horrific sexual, physical and mental abuse and bullying as a child, Michael was so overcome by the trauma of his past that he decided to end it all at the age of 20 on the 28th December 1998.
He jumped off a bridge over the A34 in Handforth breaking nearly every bone in his body – but miraculously he survived. And while being treated for the catastrophic injuries he sustained in hospital, Michael decided he would NOT let the bullies win and that he would make a success of his life.
Michael, now 42, says: “That was the turning point of my life. I thought – I want to be a success, I want to live, I want to help other young people. Why should I let other people finish me off?
“I gave in to the bullies by jumping off that bridge. You should never give in to bullies.”
From that point on, Michael worked hard to build a multi-million-pound business, and he has proudly raised an incredible £3.4m for Childline and the NSPCC over the past 15 years.
He was awarded the MBE by the Queen in 2016 for his services to charity, and now he is planning his own charity ball to continue his fundraising drive in June at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel.
He describes his childhood as “hell”, after the death of his mother when he was aged just 11 which left him open to horrific abuse as a vulnerable child and later in the care system.
Despite his tumultuous existence, being passed from different care homes and suffering more bullying and abuse, he enrolled himself in college at 16 to get a BTEC in business and finance, and got a job working in the import and export business, showing natural flair.
But away from work his mental health continued to suffer – particularly as he then struggled to come to terms with his own sexuality – and he spiralled out of control.
It led him, in the early hours of 28 December, to head to the bridge over the dual carriageway in Handforth with plans to end his life.
He recalls: “I’d been taking a lot of alcohol and drugs, I wasn’t sleeping at night and I was taking tablets to keep me calm during the day.
“It was the first year I’d not been to put flowers on my mum’s grave and it had eaten me up. I went out and decided I didn’t want to be here anymore.
“I went to the bridge and my legs were dangling over, and the next thing I knew there was police there, ambulance there. I think I was on the bridge three hours.
“In the end I didn’t want to jump, but in my head, I’d dug my own grave. I thought if I climb back over I’ll be arrested for wasting police time or put in a lunatic asylum. I just thought I’m going to have to jump. But pushing myself, I have no recollection of that.
“I was in hospital for months after that – I had fractures in my back, I’d shattered both ankles, the tibia and fibula in both legs snapped. But they said it was a miracle I’d survived. I landed standing up, and if I’d fallen any other way I’d have been dead.
“But as I lay there in hospital I knew I wanted to be a success – to make money and to give back money to those in need as well.
“I wanted to make my mum proud of me.
“I’d broken pretty much every bone in my body and had many operations, but I came out a new man” Michael Josephson said.