From prison to national award nominee - the story of Carshalton man Aaron McGrath
A young man who dropped out of school aged 14 and got into drink and drugs has turned his life around and been nominated for an award.
Carshalton man Aaron McGrath admits his life was "a bit of a mess" before he before he started volunteering with football charity the Crystal Palace Football Club (CPFC) Foundation through the Prince's Trust.
Now he has been nominated for the Prince's Trust's Samsung Young Achiever of the Year Award for his success as a football coach.
The former Stanley Park pupil, now 26, never finished year 11 at school meaning he did not get any GCSEs.
He said: "I started drinking and doing drugs from a young age and ended up developing a drink problem that led to depression and getting involved in anti-social behaviour which led to being arrested by the police.
"From my downward turn and giving up on life I spent two months in Springfield Mental Health Hospital due to trying to take my own life.
"Through anti-social behaviour I ended up in prison for four months, on my release from prison I enrolled on the Princes Trust Programme.
"This was the beginning of the change in my life I needed."
Through the Prince's Trust, Mr McGrath got a three week work placement at the CPFC Foundation and has continued his work with the charity ever since.
He has now going through qualifications to become a youth worker and has the Football Association level one coaching qualification.
Mr McGrath added: "I cannot stress enough how much CPFC Foundation and also the Princes Trust has changed my life - it’s even saved my life as I truly believe that if it wasn't for these organisations I would most certainty be in prison or not alive now."
Trevor Meader, co-ordinator of the CPFC Foundation, said: "Aaron has come along heaps and bounds. Once he has started to believe in himself he could do anything he wanted.
"Aaron was in the gutter and reached for the stars which have propelled him to where he is today.
"He is great leader and role model for young people that have been in trouble and want to make a change."
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