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.