Ex-drug addict and gangster turned bishop invited to King’s Coronation

An ex-drug addict and gangster turned bishop was left feeling “very shocked and very surprised” after recieving an invite to the King’s Coronation Garden Party.

Pastor Mick Fleming, 57, who recently slammed the Bank of England chief on Good Morning Britain for his comments about how people in the UK “need to accept they are poorer”, said he will use the opportunity to raise awareness about the poor who are struggling in the cost of living crisis.

The church leader and founder of the charity Church on The Street – which is supported by the Prince and Princess of Wales – was led on the path to God after having a spiritual epiphany before he was about to shoot a man.

After suffering from unspeakable childhood trauma, where he was raped by a stranger as a child and told that his sister had died just as he was about to confide in his parents about what happened, was propelled into the criminal underworld of 90s Britain, and to life as a dangerous ganger and drug dealer.

But now, Pastor Mick has found a life helping the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and his brilliant work has been recognised by the Royal Family.

Speaking about the moment he received the invitation to the King’s Coronation Garden Party, Pastor Mick told the Express: “I got an email first and I was very very shocked, very very surprised.”

Laughing he said: “I checked the email to make sure it weren’t a joke or something like that, and then kindly responded.

“I was very shocked. You think of where I’ve come from, I’m an ex-drug addict and I’ve been in psychiatric units, and I’m an ex-criminal, the drugs and how ill I was, it’s kind of mind-blowing really. The journey I’ve been on is like a Hollywood movie really.”

He added: “It’s massive for us. The Coronation is a pivotal part of the country’s history.

“I think it’s recognition of the type of work we are doing at Church on the Street. Although it’s me who’s going to the event, it speaks to the work of the volunteers.”

King Charles is set to host three garden parties to celebrate his Coronation, Buckingham Palace announced, with thousands of guests expected to gather on the lawns of His Majesty’s palaces.

The first two parties – hosted on May 3, three days before the ceremony, and May 9, three days after – will be held in the lavish gardens of Buckingham Palace. The third will be held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on July 4 during Holyrood Week.

Pastor Mick said he was able to choose which Garden Party he wished to attend, and he selected the May 3 party at Buckingham Palace.

He wishes to use his attendance to raise awareness of his charity, Church on The Street, and the struggles people are facing during the cost of living crisis.

“I think the fact that we’ve been invited speaks to the work that we do. It’s me that’s been invited but we’ve been invited because we serve the poor and we help people. I’m going to try and bring awareness to the charity.

“If a pastor makes it to Buckingham Palace, I’m not there for the cake and biscuits. I’m there to say there’s a world outside this door and let’s shine a light on that. And I think that’s a good thing to do.”

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The charity, Church on The Street, based in Burnley, aims to help Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable people with everything from hunger and homelessness to addiction and mental health support.

The charity was visited by the then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge around 18 months ago, and the royal couple have continued to support the charity.

Pastor Mick told the Express: “They’ve been to see us, they’ve seen the work, and they invited me down to Westminster Abbey at Christmas.

“So I went to the Princess of Wales’s Carol Concert and it was such a strange experience because we ended up sat with the Royals. It was bizarre.”

He continued: “There’s a connection [with the Prince and Princess of Wales], and it’s almost a spiritual connection, and they seem to be a couple which are so genuine in their need and drive to help others, and to speak to injustice in this country.

“And that’s my drive, that’s who I am now, because of where I’ve come from.”

Speaking further about his invitation to the Princesses’ Carol Concert, Pastor Mick said the experience was “so bizarre” because, after sitting with the Royals for the duration of the concert, they were then tasked with walking out of the Abbey alongside them.

As King Charles stepped into his Rolls Royce and Range Rovers pulled up to pick up members of the Royal Family, Pastor Mick, laughing, said: “And we’re in the same queue and we get out and go on the bus.

“It’s such a bizarre experience but they’re allowing us a glimpse of their normality. They’re not abstract figures, they’re very real people doing very real work.

“They’ve supported me by allowing me to attend these things – it’s a profile for the charity. We struggle, we struggle to raise money, we struggle to feed the people that need feeding – it’s a battle. People don’t have the money to donate and to send.

“If the profile is raised it means we can help the people who need it the most and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Pastor Mick said the profile of the charity had been increased since the support of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and there has been a bank of resources that Church on The Street have now been able to tap into.

“Because of the connection with the Prince and Princess of Wales I was able to break some barriers down. In a two-week period, I had three men on the same street that killed themselves.

“I knew that if I had access to better mental health care, all of them would still be alive. Eventually, through some influence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, we have the NHS now, the mental health resource, and they work out of our church, out of our building.

“Last week, someone was going to jump off a multi-storey, and someone else was going to set themselves on fire, and we were able to get them to the right care and the right support for them.

“There’s people now who are still alive that would have been dead. So, that’s the influence that the Prince and Princess have had.”

He added: “It’s had a massive impact. We’ve saved lives.”

Pastor Mick has detailed his experience in his autobiography, Blown Away: From Drug Dealer to Life Bringer and the Prince of Wales even wrote a foreword for the book.

In his autobiography which was released in September 2022, and of which the proceeds went to his charity, Pastor Mick wrote of his shocking journey from a violent criminal, pushed into a life of crime by terrible childhood sexual assault, to a man who found God, started a ministry and is helping the UK’s most vulnerable people through his charity.

The Prince of Wales wrote: “It’s impossible to visit Church on the Street and not be deeply moved by the work the organisation does for those in need. It is an extraordinary place.”

Speaking about the foreword, Pastor Mick said: “I think it’s the first time a royal has ever done anything like that. He wrote that, and it really helped the book. That was a connection, an ongoing connection.”

When asked about the connection between Kate, William and Pastor Mick, he said: “What I would say is that the Prince and Princess of Wales have the same heart that I have for the poor, in respect of social injustice, and they’ve definitely got that.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got or how you’ve lived your life, you either have that or you don’t – and they have that. I think that’s what the connection is. We have the same sort of heart and interest to see social justice in this country.”

Pastor Mick was led to his faith after going through unspeakable childhood trauma. After being attacked and raped by a stranger as an 11-year-old boy, he was told by his attacker not to tell anyone about what had happened.

Just as he was about to confide in his parents the following day, they told him that his sister had died, which propelled him into a life of crime.

One day later in the future, about to shoot a man, he had a spiritual epiphany which led him to God, as detailed in his autobiography Blown Away: From Drug Dealer to Life Bringer.

“I was going to collect a debt, and I had a gun wrapped in a carrier bag,” he said. “I jumped out the car and the guy walked out of a gym and he had two children with him and he was holding their hands.

“I didn’t care whether he had children with him or not, I wouldn’t have hurt the children, but I wouldn’t have cared whether they were there or not, because I was very cold. Very hard and very cold.

“As I looked at them and they’re walking towards me, light started to shine off their hands and I couldn’t see, but only for about 20 seconds.”

Pastor Mick said he then suddenly started to be sick and vomit, and they walked past him. He recalled that he tore something in his stomach and there was blood coming out of his mouth.

He got back in the car, drove off to an industrial estate and said a prayer. He then put the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t go off.

“I dropped it on the floor and broke down crying. It was the first I cried since I was a little boy at 11,” he said.

“I felt that there really was a God…I knew I should’ve been dead. I put the gun in the soil and fired it three times and it fired. I felt some type of power, whatever that was, saved my life.”

He added: “My spiritual journey hasn’t been easy… but that was the beginning of the spiritual journey I’ve been on. It’s been really painful.”

Pastor Mick’s shocking story will also be the subject of a new drama series The Pastor with Herd Productions, of which the proceeds will be going to the Church on The Street charity.

Speaking about the venture, Pastor Mick said: “It’s profound. When you stop and think about the journey that I’ve been on, it’s Hollywood stuff.

“‘And then he becomes a bishop, and then he’ll write a book, and the Prince of Wales will do the foreword for it, and they all lived happily ever after’ – it’s more mind blowing than fiction.”

“Every piece of me wants to drive injustice, I want to bring attention to it, I want to end poverty. I’m not naive enough to think I’ll be able to end poverty, but I want to play a part in changing people’s lives.”

Pastor Mick revealed that he has started writing a new autobiography, called Walk In My Shoes, which will focus on what has happened to him since he wrote his last book.

He has started writing the first chapter, and hopes to release it soon, with all the proceeds going to support his charity, Church on The Street.

The website for Church on The Street can be found here.

Pastor Mick’s first autobiography, Blown Away: From Drug Dealer to Life Bringer, can be purchased on Amazon here.

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