Former Seasiders hero Paul Stewart says the money raised from his event in Blackpool will do much to help protect children in sport.
READ MORE: Paul Stewart speaks to The Gazette ahead of emotional event in Blackpool
Blackpool Supporters’ Trust staged an evening with the 53-year-old last month to aid the charity he has helped set up to develop safeguards against child sex abuse.
Paul, who still lives in Blackpool, made over 200 League appearances for the Seasiders in the 1980s, going on to play for Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and England in a glittering career.
But for more than 40 years the former midfielder harboured the terrible secret that over four years as a child he had been subjected to sexual abuse by the late coach/scout Frank Roper, experiences which drove him to drink, drugs and suicidal thoughts.
Having first spoken out publicly about his ordeal in November 2016, Paul has since set up the charitable organisation SAVE (Safeguarding and Victim Engagement) with three fellow abuse survivors.
The event, held at the No 4 pub on Newton Drive, raised £1,000 for the charity, and Stewart was presented with a cheque at BST’s general meeting on Saturday.
He said: “On behalf of myself and everyone involved with SAVE, I would like to thank everyone who was at the evening for supporting the event and raising such a fantastic sum of money.
“That money will now go towards the organisation to train people as safeguarding professionals to go into the field and deliver the courses.
“Of course this is a topic that is close to my heart, given the issues I experienced as a child. “So from the bottom of my heart I thank you for putting together the evening. This is a fantastic amount of money, which will go a long way to achieving what we want to do to keep children safe.
“We want to make sure children are able to prosper and flourish in their chosen field. I believe that is their God-given right. Our duty and obligation is to make their environment safe.”
SAVE aims to make safeguarding training available to help prevent children from suffering similar experiences.
Donations to SAVE can be made at www.saveassociation.com, where more detailed information about the organisation can be found.
Paul’s fellow founder members are Ian Ackley, Derek Bell and David White, who were also victims of child sexual abuse in a football setting.
They seek to work alongside authorities and organisations to achieve the best results for children, vulnerable adults and survivors.