Ipswich: Five years after losing her friends at the hands of killer Steve Wright, Jade has turned her life around

SHE had no choice.

Jade Reynolds’ desperate need for a fix, the undeniable urge to feel the release of heroin coarse through her veins, drove her back on to the streets of Ipswich to sell her body for sex.

So strong was her addiction that as her friends Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls disappeared one by one, she still went out to earn cash for the next hit.

Fear and panic gripped Jade and her fellow sex workers as it dawned they were in real danger.

But as Steve Wright terrorised the town, they were forced back into his path by the Class A grip which ruled their lives.

Today, five years after she lost her friends, the 28-year-old has beaten her addiction and turned her life around.

“It was the hardest year of my life,” she recalls. “Not only did I lose the girls in December but my mum was diagnosed with a terminal illness in the January, I found out I was pregnant in March and had my son in October. Soon afterwards he was taken from me.

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“I was using heroin and crack cocaine. My habit cost me about �150-a-day.

“When Gemma went missing we knew there was something really wrong, she never went anywhere without telling her boyfriend John.

“But it didn’t stop us going out on to the streets. I had a heroin and cocaine addiction. I had no choice.

“Police were helping us with methadone but I needed the money, I was supporting my partner’s addiction as well.

“If I could’ve gone stealing I would have but I was a rubbish thief.”

For Jade it was the shock of losing her friends that made her change, made her seek support, get off the streets and tackle her addiction.

“Losing the girls really knocked it out of me,” she added. “I couldn’t cope, I had a breakdown.

“Losing my friends gave me my life back.”

For the girls were not just fellow sex workers. Jade had lived in a children’s home with Anneli, went to school with Paula and called Annette her best friend.

“We all knew each other, we all watched out for each other,” said Jade. “We knew what everyone thought but until you are in that desperate situation, your life completely dictated by drugs, you can’t understand. We were just like a big family.”

Desperate to make something good of the tragedy, Jade worked to get clean.

She turned to drugs rehabilitation charity Iceni for help to battle her addiction.

“I owed it to the girls, I owed it to the son I lost and to my ill mum to change my life,” she added. “I had to make something positive happen. We must never forget what happened but we owe it to the girls to make changes for the better. The changes they should have had the chance to make.”

With her past firmly behind her, Jade has been clean for three years.

Her focus is helping others, offering advice and support to people at risk of slipping into the world she once called normal.

She volunteers for the Make a Change team, her local police Safer Neighbourhood Team, and gives talks to various organisations warning of the dangers of drug addiction and prostitution.

“I wanted to make something positive from all this,” she said. “My future is about helping others, making sure no one goes through what I have.

“I want people to see what I have done and realise they can do it as well. It is possible.

“It is about tackling drugs and changing lives.”

n Tell us your memories of the time. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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