Gambling cost Justyn his family, job and £750k
Sandhurst star student and financial high-flier, Justyn Rees Larcombe, lost his wife, his family, £750,000 and his Sword of Honour to a crippling online gambling addiction, a Norwich audience has heard. Mike Wiltshire reports.
Justyn had it all - around his beautiful home were the mementoes of success - the Sword of Honour awarded by the Queen when he left Sandhurst; the silver photo frames with the pictures of his much-loved wife and family; the rooms full of the rewards of a career in the City of London.
But Justyn had a parallel life: he gambled. The gambling addiction “seemed to come from nowhere”. But gradually, from the age of 44, he allowed it to take over everything, getting through a staggering £750,000 - some his own money, some his wife's.
When the credit crunch came he lost his job, his wife left him, taking his sons. Soon, the Porsche and Mercedes cars were gone - and anything that could be sold. Then he just gambled away again.
Justyn’s inspirational personal story of recovery provides hope for many who struggle with addictive behaviour issues – there are an estimated 450,000 compulsive gamblers in the UK.
Justyn is the son of well-known Christian writer and speaker, Jennifer Rees Larcombe. He had Christian values from the day when, as a child in the garden - his big sister led him to faith in Christ.
Later, at university, and in the Army, he did very well, remembering a promise in the Bible where God says: “Those who honour Me, I will honour, and those that despise Me will be humbled.” (I Samuel 2:30).
Then, during a highly successful career in financial services, Justyn, who loved sports, found himself with money and time on his hands and made an innocent sports-related bet.
“I was looking for alternative excitement, away from God.” But one bet led to another . . . and the secret losses began to pile up as the stakes increased. Family relationships suffered badly - along with a terrible sense of shame as he “began to lose almost everything.”
Eventually, he found himself alone, without hope, selling everything and not eating. At his lowest point, he fell on his knees in tears and confessed that it was pride that had led to his downfall. But he knew he was forgiven – and on a tough road to freedom from addiction.
The loss of trust has been difficult to repair, but today Justyn is a changed man, vowing to never gamble again.
“Through a miracle, I’m now back with my wife,” he says. “I have nothing like the income I once had, but my life is so much richer. I’ve discovered that money isn’t important - people and relationships are.
“I have a regular walk with God and my faith is everything to me - my rock and my foundation. I feel so very happy to have been given another chance to be a proper father and a husband.
“I intend to live one day at a time in all its fullness. Having spent so long taking, I now love nothing better than giving. Giving my time and my energy to others and my trust is in Christ – not the spin of a roulette wheel!”
A keen endurance swimmer and fund-raiser, Justyn successfully swam the English Channel solo in 2014 to raise awareness of Hemiplegia, a condition his seven-year-old son Matthew has suffered from birth. Justyn is married to Emma and they have three sons: Matthew, Oscar 4 and Harry, 14.
It was a painful experience writing his story, called “Tails I Lose” – as he ‘relived’ with tears the misery of his gambling addiction. “I hope people who read my story will gain a better understanding about addictions in general which can affect us all if we let down our guard,” he said. “But, ultimately I want people to know there is hope, healing and restoration through Christ.”
In a review of Justyn’s book, General The Lord Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the British Army, said: "This is a most compelling account of the ups and downs of life, written with deep passion and total honesty.”
Justyn was speaking at a VIP Christmas dinner in Norwich, arranged by the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship at the Brook Hotel.
Pictured above is Justyn with wife Emma.