TEN-years-ago Gary Robinson was languishing in jail serving an indeterminate life sentence for a series of armed robberies.

Today he is a successful businessman and director of his recently established business.

If anyone is an example of how you can turn your life around, it’s Mr Robinson, 52.

“When I went to prison I reasoned that I should use the opportunity to change my life,” he said.

Before being imprisoned in 2000, Mr Robinson was a drug addict hooked on amphetamines and ecstasy.

“I thought nothing of spending £1,000 a day partying.”

The violent armed robberies – he held up 13 travel agents in Greater Manchester armed with a gun – helped fund his lifestyle.

When the police caught up with him he admitted his crimes. The judge said the incidents were so serious that he gave him an indeterminate prison sentence which meant he had to serve a minimum of four years before being released into the community.

“When I got four years minimum I thought I would be out in six, I did not expect to do three times the sentence,” said father-of-four Mr Robinson.

From the moment he started serving his sentence, Mr Robinson set about transforming his life.

“I came off the drugs – which was very difficult at times – and began studying.

Despite entering prison unable to read and write, his determination to better himself resulted in him gaining 84 qualifications by the time he was freed in 2013.

Amongst his achievements he qualified as a drug and alcohol councillor, a fitness instructor and a community sports leader.

He also discovered a love of reading with Stephen King becoming one of his favourite authors.

On leaving prison he signed up to the Achieve programme in Bolton, run by John Knight. This enabled him to access a variety of training courses designed to improve his employment chances – a challenge for anyone with a criminal record.

His dedication paid off and in January his personal injury and compensation business was officially established and recognised by Companies House.

“It was an incredible feeling and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved,” said Mr Robinson who is owner, manager and director of Bury-based R and T Solutions.

“I employ four staff and we do not do any cold calling.”

Looking back on his incredible journey Mr Robinson who used to live in Farnworth but now lives in Bury, said: “It’s not been easy but I had no choice but to go forward. Only the strong survive.”