Young Sheffield entrepreneur Adam Bradford, 21, has spoken out about his family’s turmoil one month after his father was sent to jail for fraud as he starts campaigning to bring stricter regulation and controls over betting and gambling including a national ‘Gambling Awareness Day’.
21-year-old Adam Bradford from Waterthorpe has had a rollercoaster of a career to date.
The young entrepreneur launched his IT consultancy business while studying for his business BTEC in Sheffield.
Last month his life took an unexpected turn as his entire family was left in turmoil. On 10th April his father came home from work and delivered some devastating news, little did the family know that the worst was yet to come. Adam explains: ‘He was talking to mum for a long time, then came into the living room and spoke to us all. He said he had something major to tell us – and that we wouldn’t like it. We thought he was going away on work business over the weekend, but he revealed that he was actually going to court. He said he had pleaded guilty to fraud – something about when he worked in Wales a couple of years ago. It was absolutely devastating. I really can’t describe how I felt or how any of us felt. I looked around to my brothers and my mums’ faces and don’t think I even realised how deep my dad had sunk. You go all this way in your life as a decent and honest human being to find out your dad has been harbouring some terrible secret behind your back. That’s really not easy to take at all. I’ve still not come to terms with who he really is behind the family man we seemed to know. We do feel very betrayed and heartbroken.’
The family learned about the enormity of David Bradford’s problems through a Wales-based newspaper early the following week. ‘I get alerted whenever my name is mentioned in the media and somehow the Bradford part of my name came through to me as an article in a Wales newspaper. The headline read that a company accountant had defrauded their employer of over 50,000.00 GBP. I thought that surely couldn’t be my dad – much to my horror it was.’ Bradford, 57, appeared at Mold Crown Court in April this year after pleading guilty to fraud. He was given a prison sentence of two years and was immediately taken away from court to be locked up. It was revealed that the money he stole from his employer in Wales was used to fund a gambling habit; something the family knew nothing of.
Adam describes the moment the family learned about his dad’s jail sentence: ‘We got a phone call from his solicitor telling us he wouldn’t be coming home. I think we all just fell apart. What can you do – there’s no easy way to find these things out, neither is there an easy way to deal with it. My dad’s been taken away, for my mum her husband of 35 years has been taken away from her too. My brothers now don’t have a dad at home either. Who’s going to pay the bills? How are we going to live?’
Adam says although he has an intensive career which has recently spanned international work, he is in no position to cover the burden of debt and destruction which his father has left in his path: ‘To be inundated by the countless demands from debt collectors through the post is horrifying. My dad had a seriously dangerous addiction to money. We can see from his bank records that his wage would enter his account one day and a couple of days later it would have been squandered on online gambling and betting. This kind of thing is just unbelievable.’
Adam explains how his family have realised quickly the devastation which gambling can cause since the news broke: ‘We are convinced that dad had a very serious illness, something psychological that we aren’t qualified to put our finger on. He’s been hiding this monster for long enough. Most of his household bills are in arrears and there is a very real danger of us losing our family home now. I’m glad it’s out in the open and he’s in a place where he can cause no more damage to himself or the ones he loves. Online gambling is a serious problem and seemed to be his last resort to win enough money to sort out his issues.’ Mr Bradford made a loss of around 20,000.00 GBP through his gambling which the court heard took place during the time he was stealing money in 2012.
Adam and his family are now calling for stricter control over online betting where it is normal for users to sign up for an account and automatically link their credit cards, which in this case, emptied Mr Bradford’s bank accounts. ‘There needs to be a Gambling Awareness Day. While it can be an entertaining and sometimes rewarding pastime, my dad ended up seeing this as a way to make money and it became a dangerous habit.
This time he took one bet too far and he’s lost everything he ever had – so have we. We are at serious risk of losing our house now.’
Adam says he will spearhead his own campaigning, lobbying to make sure that more is done to stop these events happening to others: ‘On behalf of my family and many others who may have found themselves in a similar predicament, I’ll use my influence and my networks to campaign across the country for more awareness around problem gambling. There are other campaigns around and there is advice available online, but I need my voice to be heard to raise the profile of the issue. I’ll also take a no holds barred approach with gambling companies who I’m hoping to directly speak to about the tragic events which have devastated our family. I’ll spearhead a national campaign starting right now which I will make sure brings stricter control over potentially devastating betting and gambling.’ Adam suggests there should be a restriction on when and how gambling can be advertised and that banks could assist in being more vigilant when users are hopping between different betting sites when they reach their spending limit. Adam continues:’I do know that most people gamble responsibly, but it is way too easy for a bit of fun to turn into a lot of misery. The problem stops here.’