ALMOST three months have now passed since Jamie Lee Payne’s father, Alan, passed away.

Remembered fondly as a man who “had a heart of gold”, the heartache of his loss is still felt by his eldest child and her three siblings every day.

Alan was just 49 when he died.

Having battled with alcoholism for years, as well as the associated mental health struggles, he eventually accepted he had an addiction problem just weeks before his death, by which point, according to Jamie Lee, it was just too late.

“He was always in denial”, Jamie Lee tells the Herald, “but towards the end he finally waved the white flag and surrendered.

“He phoned me and he said: ‘Jamie Lee, I need you to take me to get help.’”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Jamie Lee with her dad, AlanJamie Lee with her dad, Alan

Jamie Lee believes her dad had been neglected by regular health services for too long, and was in desperate need of specialist support.

The 31-year-old admits her nerves were “rattled” because she didn’t know her dad’s next move, meanwhile Alan was “emotionally and mentally exhausted”.

“He was relying on alcohol for a long time,” Jamie Lee said.

“It got to the point where he was waking up and he would need it to get through the day.

READ MORE: New addiction rehab centre in Saltcoats 'won't add pressure to area's medical services'

“I used to tell him ‘alcohol is a depressant, so you’re going round in circles’.

“He was using it to numb his pain but it was making his depression worse.”

Reflecting on the lead-up to that fateful day in April raises a question of ‘what could’ve been’ for Jamie Lee, her father and the whole family.

Next month, in Saltcoats, Scotland’s new addiction rehab and family centre will open up, providing residential treatment programmes for up to 20 families at any one time.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The former Seabank Nursing Home will open up as Harper House next monthThe former Seabank Nursing Home will open up as Harper House next month

Looking beyond the customary social media commentators criticising the location of the specialist facility and questioning its value, Jamie Lee offers a positive, alternative opinion on the soon-to-be service in her hometown.

She said: “I wish this place was here when he [Alan] was.

“My dad wouldn’t have been isolated with strangers fighting this on his own, we could’ve been with him.

“He needed somewhere where he felt like he wasn’t getting judged, somewhere that he could still be himself but get help at the same time with his family around him.

“It might be next to a school, it might be along from a town centre, but realistically where are you going to put a building like that?

“Would you rather see, to use the words that other people use, the ‘junkies’ and ‘alkies’ walking through your local town centre when you’re going for your shopping, or would you rather they were in a rehab centre with professionals, getting the help that they need?

“It’s a no-brainer.

“If my dad was still here I would’ve dragged him down there and I would’ve got him in.

“I was ill for a very long time and my brother was the same because we, being the eldest, took a lot of it on ourselves.

READ MOREDrug charity explain their plans for new Saltcoats family centre

“We knew it was going to end tragically, we just didn’t know when or how.

“If he was still here when this place was here it would’ve taken such a weight off our shoulders. It would’ve made our lives easier and it would’ve made a positive impact knowing that he was somewhere safe.”

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The old Seabank Care Home closed in 2018The old Seabank Care Home closed in 2018

Even among those with a sceptical view of Harper House - which will be based at the former Seabank Nursing Home - the overwhelming hope is that the centre will make a huge difference, locally and nationally. Contributing to fewer drug and alcohol-related deaths is the obvious aim, but a step change in societal attitudes towards addiction problems would also be welcome.

Jamie Lee said: “It’s too late for my dad, he’s gone, we can’t bring him back, but I will use my dad’s story and the situation that we’re in to encourage other folk to get the help that they need.

“Folk are far too quick to judge. My dad is the prime example, yes he had an addiction, but he was just a man with a problem or various problems.

“We’ve had such a terrible time, everybody has, over the last couple of years and everybody has been talking about saving lives, being kind, mental health. Give this place a chance.

“I really hope that this place turns out for the best and the people that post negative, nasty comments truly eat their words when the time comes that they see that it’s actually been a success.

“It might not be straight away, or any time soon, but definitely in the long run I think it’s going to be a complete success. I hope people then change their opinions about those who need to use these centres.”

READ MORE: Addiction rehab centre confirmed for former Saltcoats nursing home

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A range of charities and organisations are available to provide advice and support on any of the issues raised within this story.

Visit or; if you need urgent help call 116 123 any time to speak to a Samaritan, or email

You can also call the North Ayrshire Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service, based in Stevenston, on 01294 476 000.