Former football hooligan tells school children how he turned his life around

York Press: Former football hooligan Gram Seed who tours schools teaching children why it is bad to get involved with violence. Former football hooligan Gram Seed who tours schools teaching children why it is bad to get involved with violence.

A FORMER football hooligan and rough sleeper has told York school children how he completely turned his life around.

Gram Seed, 50, served prison sentences for football related violence, assault, robbery and theft, but changed his ways after a near death experience in 1996.

Children at Heworth CE Primary School were fascinated to listen to his story after he was invited into the school as part of a project called "Transformers", looking at how people change their lives.

Simon Biddlestone, head teacher, said the children were treated to the 'reader's digest' version of Gram's life and that he also later held a talk for parents and the wider community.

Mr Biddlestone said: "They found it fascinating. It was great because we have talked about the people whose lives have changed and that we can often improve our lives by changing some things.

"To have somebody who they could see and who had experienced it first had a huge impact."

Gram - who has since written an award winning book about his experience - told of how after inadvertently stealing £50 from a pub in his home town of Middlesbrough, theft became a way of life and at sixteen he was given a four month sentence for breaking and entering.

After his release Gram joined The Front Line, a hooligan gang that followed Middlesbrough Football Club. He travelled all over the country with them, suffering injuries including stabbings and having the end of his little finger chopped off.

Following a number of prison sentences and trying but failing to start a new life, Gram returned to Teesside at Christmas 1992 and began to drink heavily, regularly having 28 pints of White Lightning cider a day and starting to take heroin and crack cocaine.

By now home was a bench and food was begged or scavenged. Even so, when a passing group of Christian evangelists called out "Jesus loves you", Gram said he found the strength to chase them.

The Christians came to his bedside to pray every day when his body gave up and he went into a coma in 1996.

He was suffering from septicemia, malnourishment, hypothermia, liver damage and kidney failure and his mother was advised to prepare to have the life support machine switched off.

However, Gram pulled through and after making a remarkable recovery, Gram said he turned to Christianity and in 2007 launched his charity, Sowing Seeds Ministries.

He lives in Stockton with wife Natasha and two sons Caleb, 14, and Boaz, ten.

As part of their project, children have looked at Buzz Lightyear, Bible characters Zacchaeus and Joseph and the historical figure John Newton.

Comments (12)

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8:28am Tue 8 Jul 14

nearlyman says...

Well its a good advert against his former lifestyle. 50 years old ? He looks at least 70 !
Well its a good advert against his former lifestyle. 50 years old ? He looks at least 70 ! nearlyman
  • Score: 1

8:32am Tue 8 Jul 14

TheTruthHurts says...

Good on him. well done Gram
Good on him. well done Gram TheTruthHurts
  • Score: 13

8:53am Tue 8 Jul 14

anistasia says...

Good for him.because he's been through the system had the highs and lows hopefully kids will take more notice of him than someone just preaching to them. he's done wrong in the past some things you can make amends on and forgive but other crimes you can't. well done keep it up.
Good for him.because he's been through the system had the highs and lows hopefully kids will take more notice of him than someone just preaching to them. he's done wrong in the past some things you can make amends on and forgive but other crimes you can't. well done keep it up. anistasia
  • Score: 9

8:59am Tue 8 Jul 14

anistasia says...

nearlyman wrote:
Well its a good advert against his former lifestyle. 50 years old ? He looks at least 70 !
Well this is one point he can bring out to the kids drinking
ages you been on the street weathers your skin makes you look older.seeing is believing so good example.
[quote][p][bold]nearlyman[/bold] wrote: Well its a good advert against his former lifestyle. 50 years old ? He looks at least 70 ![/p][/quote]Well this is one point he can bring out to the kids drinking ages you been on the street weathers your skin makes you look older.seeing is believing so good example. anistasia
  • Score: 5

9:31am Tue 8 Jul 14

stu3466 says...

there own mothers and fathers teach them right from wrong not a plank like that,wriiten a book making money for nothing
there own mothers and fathers teach them right from wrong not a plank like that,wriiten a book making money for nothing stu3466
  • Score: -13

9:39am Tue 8 Jul 14

Micklegate says...

Totally inappropriate audience. It's good that he's turned his life around but this is something to maybe talk to teenagers about, if I had children the age of those in the picture I would hate the idea they have been discussing things like football hooliganism and heroine, things they would not have been potentially exposed to for years.
Totally inappropriate audience. It's good that he's turned his life around but this is something to maybe talk to teenagers about, if I had children the age of those in the picture I would hate the idea they have been discussing things like football hooliganism and heroine, things they would not have been potentially exposed to for years. Micklegate
  • Score: 1

10:22am Tue 8 Jul 14

courier46 says...

Micklegate wrote:
Totally inappropriate audience. It's good that he's turned his life around but this is something to maybe talk to teenagers about, if I had children the age of those in the picture I would hate the idea they have been discussing things like football hooliganism and heroine, things they would not have been potentially exposed to for years.
Yes have to agree ,whose bright idea was it to him talk to children so young,13+ maybe.
[quote][p][bold]Micklegate[/bold] wrote: Totally inappropriate audience. It's good that he's turned his life around but this is something to maybe talk to teenagers about, if I had children the age of those in the picture I would hate the idea they have been discussing things like football hooliganism and heroine, things they would not have been potentially exposed to for years.[/p][/quote]Yes have to agree ,whose bright idea was it to him talk to children so young,13+ maybe. courier46
  • Score: 6

10:30am Tue 8 Jul 14

Yorkmackem1 says...

He was blind and now he can see.

Praise be to Jesus.
He was blind and now he can see. Praise be to Jesus. Yorkmackem1
  • Score: -4

10:31am Tue 8 Jul 14

Justmythoughts... says...

Micklegate wrote:
Totally inappropriate audience. It's good that he's turned his life around but this is something to maybe talk to teenagers about, if I had children the age of those in the picture I would hate the idea they have been discussing things like football hooliganism and heroine, things they would not have been potentially exposed to for years.
I couldnt agree more! Those kids are far too young to even remember his talk in a few years time. He should be aiming this at teenagers, they're the ones most easily influenced, not little kids. Well done though, proof that life really is what you make it.
[quote][p][bold]Micklegate[/bold] wrote: Totally inappropriate audience. It's good that he's turned his life around but this is something to maybe talk to teenagers about, if I had children the age of those in the picture I would hate the idea they have been discussing things like football hooliganism and heroine, things they would not have been potentially exposed to for years.[/p][/quote]I couldnt agree more! Those kids are far too young to even remember his talk in a few years time. He should be aiming this at teenagers, they're the ones most easily influenced, not little kids. Well done though, proof that life really is what you make it. Justmythoughts...
  • Score: 6

11:18am Tue 8 Jul 14

Exiled1 says...

Just what a bunch of 5 yr old girls need, some old geezer warning em off football hooliganism and substance abuse. Bizarre!
Just what a bunch of 5 yr old girls need, some old geezer warning em off football hooliganism and substance abuse. Bizarre! Exiled1
  • Score: 5

1:09pm Tue 8 Jul 14

Firedrake says...

I heard Gram's evening talk and it was truly inspiring. As for its appropriateness for primary school children, the headteacher made it quite clear that they got the "Readers' Digest" version.

If only stu3466 were right about parents teaching their children right from wrong! Obviously, for many kids, this is simply not the case. That's partly why Gram got into such a mess in the first place.

As for making money from the book, I imagine most of it goes to the charity he founded, but, in any case, he's just as entitled to make a living as anyone else.
I heard Gram's evening talk and it was truly inspiring. As for its appropriateness for primary school children, the headteacher made it quite clear that they got the "Readers' Digest" version. If only stu3466 were right about parents teaching their children right from wrong! Obviously, for many kids, this is simply not the case. That's partly why Gram got into such a mess in the first place. As for making money from the book, I imagine most of it goes to the charity he founded, but, in any case, he's just as entitled to make a living as anyone else. Firedrake
  • Score: 6

1:38pm Tue 8 Jul 14

CaroleBaines says...

Great story, well done Gram. I meet all sorts in my work and believe me there is good and bad in all of us. Judging people is just so completely wrong, so is the adage that people cannot change.
Great story, well done Gram. I meet all sorts in my work and believe me there is good and bad in all of us. Judging people is just so completely wrong, so is the adage that people cannot change. CaroleBaines
  • Score: 2
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