A former drug dealer blinded when he was stabbed in the face said: “I’d still have my eye if I’d walked away”.
Mark Bracewell was knifed through the eye and nearly died in the horrific attack five years ago.
Before that he had also survived being kidnapped and shot and watched his friend die in front of him having been stabbed through the heart.
Now Mark has joined Staffordshire Police’s Ditch the Blade campaign – saying knives had cost him his eye.
In a video released by the force, Mark, who lives in Stoke-on-Trent, spoke candidly about how he was left partially blind and with a false eye.
It happened in 2016 when he was on a night out with friends and a fight broke out.
“I thought I was doing the right thing by jumping in and helping my friends, but the person he was fighting with pulled out a knife and stabbed me in the face and then my neck,” he said.
“The knife went in through my eye and severed my optic nerve, shattered my cheekbone and came out in my mouth.
“He then pulled it out and then stabbed me in my neck and ran off and left me to die.”
Mark said at that point panic broke out because there was “blood flying around everywhere”.
He said: “Right at that moment I just knew I didn’t want to die.”
He was taken to hospital and rushed straight into the operating theatre where surgeons managed to save his life but were unable to save his injured eye.
Mark became involved in crime when he was just a teenager and began dealing drugs on the notorious Moss Side estate in Manchester.
He was dealing substances for older teenagers and began carrying a knife for protection. He said it was the norm to help protect yourself from rival gangs.
Mark was kidnapped and shot when he was just 14, the same year one of his best friends was killed.
He has now turned his life around, ditched crime, and wants to educate youngsters on the dangers they face when they decide to arm themselves with knives.
He said spending three-and-a-half years in prison for a knifepoint robbery had changed his life.
“One knife affects so many different lives – it’s not just your life, it’s not just the life of the person who gets stabbed,” he said.
“It’s their mum, their dad, their sisters, their brothers. It’s the people who care about you who are affected as well, it affects so many different people .
“So my advice would be don’t carry a knife – don’t make the same mistakes I did. It takes more of a man to walk away than it does to stand and fight.
“If I’d have walked away that day I’d still have an eye.”
After leaving prison Mark moved to Stoke-on-Trent and is now involved with the Ruff and Ruby youth campaign, as well as mentoring troubled youngsters.