Gary Charles – Head of Player Welfare
Gary is a former Premier League footballer who played for many UK clubs including Aston Villa, West Ham, Derby County, Leicester City, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest. He also played for Benfica and was a full England International.
After retiring from professional football, Gary developed a career in football coaching and recruitment, working at Sunderland, Ipswich, Lincoln City and Burnley and is currently Director of Football at Nottingham University. Gary is a qualified Counsellor who has worked as a consultant at a leading residential therapy centre.
Gary experienced, over several years, the types of problems to which we refer. Gary is a recovering alcoholic, who is 10 years sober and has extensive experience and knowledge of the pressures and anxieties felt by professional athletes. Gary holds a Diploma in Counselling and his experience and knowledge has given him a desire and drive to help fellow sportspeople when dealing with addictions, stress or anxiety and any other issues that arise in an athlete’s life.
Lorna McClelland – Senior Consultant
Lorna was the Player’s Welfare and Liaison Officer at Aston Villa Football Club for 15 years. It would be appropriate to suggest that Lorna created the blueprint for Player Welfare in football and in other sports, as she was the first professional to create a structure which focused on the support of players and staff in an holistic sense.
Lorna promoted the model that players should be encouraged to become independent, yet she was aware that not all players had the same facility for self- management. In addition to supporting the players, she promoted the concept of ‘family support’. These structures have now become the norm within the context of Player Welfare. Lorna is multilingual, having lived and worked abroad.
She set up the National Association of Player Welfare Officers in order to disseminate information and to establish best practice in clubs. She is familiar with the issues faced by sportspeople, back-room staff and Managers. Lorna is an experienced counsellor.