A former broker from Heston who spent four years behind bars after being discovered with a huge stash of cocaine visited his old school, West Thames College, to warn youngsters about the dangers of carrying weapons.
Syd Syed, who was born and raised on the Convent Way Estate, told pupils at West Thames College last Thursday about the horrors of jail in a bid to prevent them slipping into a life of crime.
The 36-year-old father-of-one was a high-flying City trader earning £60,000 a year when police raided his home and discovered a kilo of cocaine, along with a gun, silencer and ammunition, which he claims he was hiding for a friend.
He was sentenced to nine years in prison, and served half that term before being released in October, but his time behind bars inspired him to set up the New Destiny Trust.
"In my previous life I was an egotistical, arrogant b*****d and I didn't give a f**k about anyone, but prison wakes you up to a lot of things," he said.
"When I was there I saw more and more young people being killed or ending up behind bars and I felt strong-ly that no one should have to go through that just because they're carrying weapons to protect themselves."
The organisation sends 'mentors' like Syd to schools and youth clubs across London to talk about the realities of the underworld and encourage youngsters to ditch weapons and help police do their job by coming forward as witnesses.
Having experienced what they are talking about, and bearing the scars to prove it, helps earn them the confidence of youngsters, who are often more willing to open up than they would be with teachers or police.
The organisation is already funded by Thames Valley Police, which sometimes asks Syd and fellow mentors to talk to witnesses, but he is keen to sign up more police forces, including Hounslow.
He said Heston, where he still lives, has changed a lot since his childhood, for better and worse.
"You used to have three big gangs in the area: Holy Smoke, Tutti Nuns and Apaches," explained the former Heston Community School pupil.
"They've all disbanded but their children are getting involved in some cases and I'm concerned about the growing youth gang culture."
Schools, youth groups, or even worried youngsters and their parents, can learn more about the New Destiny Trust by emailing info@new destinytrust.co.uk or visiting www.newdestinytrust.co.uk
So, what did the pupils make of it?
Jermaine Esprit , 16, said: "It was a very eye-opening talk and I felt I could relate to him because he's been through it himself.
"I liked the way he said you're not a man if you're going to go out and stab someone up."
Amy Daykin , 16, said: "Before today, I was like 'f**k the police', but now I'd speak to them because it's my life at risk.
"At first I said I'd do 30 years for my best mate, but this made me think."