He was once a one-man crime spree who was arrested almost every weekend.

Jon Watts faced an uncertain future when he given a six year sentence for grevious bodily harm with intent, aged 18.

But the ex-con has turned his life around and has just set up his own catering company in St Albans.

While serving time at Reading Young Offenders Institute, Mr Watts became the first young offender toreceive bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Through the skill section of his award he gained a City and Guilds NVQ level 2 and then a level 3 in catering and hospitality.

The 26-year-old said: "I was a trouble maker. I was up to no good and looked set for a life of failure.

"When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do so I spent my time sleeping all day, drinking all night and found a thrill of getting into trouble.

"I liked the reputation, I was 18 years old and assumed life would sort itself out.

"I was lost and through a change of attitude, a lot of help from different people, perseverance and taking every opportunity possible, I have got myself to where I am now.

"Prison changed me. I realised I had to do something.

"My eyes and soul were opened to the wonderful world of food.

"A fire was started inside of me and I am extremely grateful to have found what I am passionate about."

During his last year in prison, Mr Watts applied for a job at Jamie’s Italian and was visited by the head chef, who offered him a job while he was on day release.

Mr Watts, who now lives in Shenley, left prison in 2011 after serving three and a half years of his sentence, and continued to work at Jamie’s Italian restaurant group - including shifts at the restaurant in St Albans.

During that time he also cooked for Jamie and his crew at his house in Essex during the filming of his recent TV show Comfort Foods, and spent time with Raymond Blanc at his Michelin star restaurant.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Jon and Jamie

Now four years out of jail, Mr Watts has started Blue Sage Catering, a private catering company offering affordable buffets or formal dining.

Mr Watts added: "If I hadn’t have gone to prison it wouldn’t have worked out like this.

"When I look at successful people in the world, I realise that once upon a time they were just like me, they were young, passionate and they had dreams.

"It's my dream to build a legacy like they have.

"Blue Sage is where my dreams will begin to unfold. Cooking has given me something to focus on and a career "I am going to put my heart and soul into making every event extra special.

"Eventually I want to be like Jamie Oliver, giving young people hope and opportunity for a better future no matter the circumstances."