A father-of-three who overcame drug and alcohol addictions has launched a range of spicy sauces, inspired by his Caribbean roots.

Gilchrist Thomas, 43, developed his ‘My Sauce’ range which he believes will rival Levi Root’s Reggae Reggae Sauces.

The 43-year-old is keen to share his story of triumph over tragedy in the hope that it will inspire youngsters experiencing challenges.

The former DJ, who now works as a bus driver, was born in Hackney and lived in Waltham Forest most of his life before recently moving to Waltham Abbey.

At the age of six, Mr Thomas, witnessed his mother die of a heart attack and a year later his father died.

He was raised by his siblings but with few positive male role models, apart from his big brother, he ended up getting expelled from secondary school for bad behaviour.

Epping Forest Guardian:

He said: “I left home at the age of 16 and I had to fend for myself.”

He added: “I had no sense of direction and no career prospects, no sense of purpose and no self-worth.

“So it was no surprise that I ran on the wrong side of the law for a while.”

The direction Mr Thomas’ life was taking took a turn for the better when he went along to a local church in 2007 that made him realise it was not too late to change his ways.

He remembers: "Soon after this, I had an encounter one night and God set free from all addictions and my life has changed for the better ever since this decision."

He went on to marry and have three sons and also gained a 2:1 in social sciences form the University of East London - a big achievement for someone who left school with no qualifications.

Having learned his cooking skills from my sisters and extended family members, he began experimenting with different seasonings and ingredients to create sauces.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Mr Thomas, who briefly worked as a support worker with children and families, is keen to use his life experience to reach out to the younger generation.

“Many of my friends complimented my sauces and were always encouraging me to, one day, turn it into a business,” he said.

“As an entrepreneur and male role model, I want to inspire young people to go into business themselves.

“I believe that no matter what life throws at you, no matter if you've been dealt a bad hand and are at a disadvantage, you can turn things around with the right attitude, drive, focus, determination and positive encouragement.

“Ultimately it’s about making positive decisions and the right choices.

“In the long run, this will not only benefit the individual but can have a positive impact on others and the community as a whole.

“We can all make a big difference.”

The range, backed by a professional UK sauce manufacturer, offers three flavours: a hot scotch bonnet sauce, a mild scotch bonnet sauce and a spicy pineapple marinade.

Mr Thomas will be promoting his sauces at events in Waltham Forest throughout the summer including the Leyton Carnival on July 8, the Walthamstow Garden Party on July 15 and Waltham Forest Mela on 5 August 5 and Chingfest on August 11.