” Why were you not there dad “

As I have mentioned, my dad was my biggest fan. He never missed a game I played in.

However, he missed my debut at Bolton Wanderers !! For over 30 years ” The ” Elephant in the room ” had remained between us.

Then one day in 2011, I heard the Mike and the Mechanics record, In the living years. Now if you are not aware of the lyrics, it is about a father and son who do not communicate well. The father dies and his son wishes he had told him so many things more, in his fathers the living years.

I was driving at the time. So I turned my car around, bought the CD at The Metro Centre and headed off to meet my dad. Mum was panicking, as I never usually just turn up! I said that I needed to talk with dad and not to worry. Closing the door, I put on the CD, asking him to please listen to the amazing words which were to follow.

When the CD was finished, he said. ” All right, what do you want to know” I then asked him why he did not come to see me make my debut. Because that game was his, as much as mine!

Tears began to flow, from his eyes. Only the second time I had ever seen this happen. Then he told me why. It is my biggest regret in my life son and I wish that I could turn back time. I did not want to be there in case you were not good enough and were made to look like a fool!!!!

We fell into each others arms, tears rolling down our cheeks. The “Elephant in the room” had disappeared.

Knowing who you really are !

2020 is going to represent a totally new decade in all of our lives. One in which we can make the crucial decisions about who we really are and what we want our lives to look like..

These are our choices! But, we certainly do not have to make these decisions on our own. There are so many ways to enable us to be brave in our transition journey. Relationships and communication skills are massive when it comes to our emotional wellbeing. Believe it or not, so is listening. Really listening.

When we listen to our heart, our emotions, our fears, our bodies, other peoples so called greater opinions and of course, that still small voice which has been sitting on our shoulder for, however so many years now. You know the one I mean !

Being brave and looking at the person in the mirror staring back at you. Do you still know that person, or have the pressures of survival totally engulfed your personal reality.

We wear the mask, bottle up our hearts, so that they will never again be broken. The loss of that special person, the pain of that relationship breakdown. The lack of self-esteem, body image, bullying friends. We can go on and on.

Now is the time to get your life back. To find the real you.

So, come on 2020, give me the ability to find and become the real me. Trust me you can do this. One of the toughest parts of this process is reflection. Allowing ourselves to stop our world and spend some me time. Enjoy just being alone with reality.

Somewhere quiet, somewhere special to you alone. Think about this very place now, this second. Now, take the time during the coming week to visit your transitional start point. When you arrive, do the following :-

  • Listen to every sound
  • Allow our emotions to visit our heart
  •  For once in your life, be true to the real you . Be authentic and transparent.

Only once you have done this will the journey of transition begin for you.

You deserve this !

Stay safe


Where have I been!

During the past 18 months, so many things have been happening both personally and professionally.

So hence the significant time lapse since my last communication.

However, mh Coching & Leadership is still very much alive and kicking so to speak.

I shall begin regular blogs again , trying to both inspire and give guidance .

The most important part of this communication is that we ensure that we understand both ourselves and what is the most important parts of our lives.

For me it’s !

1) Faith

2) Megan my wife

3) My children

4) mh Coaching & Leadership

Remember, you never realise just what you have, until it’s gone.  So don’t be one of those people.

Enjoy your life as if every day was going to be your last. Tell your wife you love her, hold your children tight, let them feel the security they need.

Above all , love yourself.

Speak again soon.



We don’t want to change you, just add to you

Prior to the completion of this blog, may I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2018. May you remain safe, secure and loved in all that you do.

‘We don’t want to change you, just add to you’ is the strapline for m.h. Coaching & Leadership and has been since the day of our conception. During the past months, this has become incredibly relevent in both my personal and professional journey.

Life in general has a wonderful way of both encouraging you and knocking you down. However, in both instances it is of great importance that you are able to take the ‘add to you’ moments no matter what they are and store them away under wisdom and knowledge in your life journey.

For me personally, I have had some incredible ‘add to you’ moments, which have been highlighted by the emotions and trials of my cancer recovery and brother’s mental illness.

If you were to ask me what those ‘add to you’ moments have been I would say they were, to have faith in what you believe in, surround yourself with people who love you and care and trust in yourself.

We have so many blessings which are actually sitting right there in front of us, however it is so easy to neglect those blessings and becomes suffocated by despair and negativity. So I guess my real ‘add to you’ moment has been the realisation that life is so very precious and to make sure that you both live and appreciate it every second that you have.

So, ‘we don’t want to change you, just add to you’ has become something incredibly relevent to both myself, my family and my business…

Leadership & Love 

Since my last blog, I have had the privilege of spending time with some amazing young people in Romania and North Tyneside. What I have seen, and listened to has not only inspired me but also confirmed even more my faith in love as a real gift of leadership. 

The world sometimes looks at the word ‘love’ and completely underestimates just how broad and how deep it is. Without love, any relationship is going to struggle to both survive and grow. Hence the importance of knowing intricately the members of the team you are leading, whether it be personal or professional.
Love and adversity is an amazing emotion and sight to behold. However, the pain of arriving at this point is a leadership education which very few of us have the capacity to understand. 

Two instances recently stand out; one which totally challenged my heart and opened up my vulnerability to a point so far in my life I have not reached. 

The other confirmed that if you persevere in love with a compassion lead wisdom, that person will eventually listen and believe that the gifts they have been given at such a young age can actually be used to change the lives of peer group and family. So much so that an open speaker telephone conversation with this person’s mother sharing the gifts of her daughter had her in tears, and asking for forgiveness that she had not given enough time to see the gifts her daughter has.

So I guess to wrap this up, what I’m really saying is; telling and showing someone you love them is one of the most important gifts of leadership at any level, and is certainly not a sign of weakness. 

‘Speak to the world of what I have done’

‘Life is a game of inches’, as Al Pacino once said in his famous team talk. For me, my life has been a game of injuries in the sports arena which have helped shape who I am and what I stand for.

The journey will incorporate joy, pain, agony, anger, wisdom, character and values.

April 1973

Two days before Sunderland’s legendary win over Leeds United at Wembley. As captain of the Sunderland Reserve team, four of the first team squad for the final were recalled to play in this game. On the night we kicked off against Middlesbrough, within two minutes I was lying on the turf fighting for my life, not knowing the incredible life-saving journey which lay in front of me. Serious internal injuries including a severely ruptured spleen were now beginning to take their toll and, within a matter of hours, could kill me. Our physio that night, Johnny Watters, and Coach Martin Harvey saved my life. The resulting emergency operation allowed me the 12 months recovery period required to pick up the pieces of a once flourishing career.

Life lesson learned: Even when you feel that everything in your life is totally planned out and you’re ‘on your way’, events beyond your control can change your direction in a matter of seconds. I learned that life is a very precious thing.


February 1979 

Whilst playing in front of 23,000 people in Pretoria for Arcadia Shepherds, a badly broken right leg ended my professional playing career. Having been part of the first team to play a black player, and visit Sowetto Stadium where we were the first white team to win, I didn’t realise at the time that history was in the making regarding the apartheid in South Africa.

Life lesson learned: You live by the sword and die by the sword. Having been a very competitive player, and at times playing outside of the rules in terms of physical presence on the football pitch, it was only a matter of time before my life was challenged. This was the start of my faith journey.


August 2001

Whilst playing in the over 40s squash final, I reptured my right achilles tendon. The pain from this injury was by far the most excrutiating to date. Having just started a new leadership role the week prior, I was under severe pressure to continue working and thanks to my boss at the time, who was incredibly supportive to me, I was able to continue the rehabilitation process which took seven months.

Life lesson learned: Even though squash is a one-to-one tactical game based on skill and resilience, I learned that team work from the people that really matter in your life is so important.


November 2014 

Having been a professional sportsman for 20 years, my left knee joint finally gave way and I had to have a complete knee replacement under an epidural anaesthetic. During the worst time of my knee injury, I was taking the maximum allowed in pain relief, gabapentin 1800mg, and this was catastrophic for me when I had to wean myself off them. It took me six months to recover from the severe side effects of the withdrawal, namely depression and mood swings.

Life lession learned: Hard work and resilience to get back to full fitness accompanied by a new realisation and understanding of mental health plus the issues it can throw at people.

dad knee

November 2016

Radical prostate cancer was diagnosed and immediate surgery to save my life took place.

Life lesson learned: Refer to my previous blog post here


For me my life is a constant journey of learning, receiving and sharing and is based around the famous J F Kennedy quote; “It’s not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them.”


Success to Significance…

I have had two phone calls in the past few weeks, both from head teachers whom I have been working with for the a couple of years.

Both their personal development and leadership skills were identified as particular areas of focus and mentoring also became a huge part of their journey.

The two phone calls were pretty similar really; both teachers had taken their schools from ‘Notice to Improve’ to ‘Good with Outstanding features’ in their recent Ofsted inspections.

One of the most pleasing aspects was that their leadership and management sections were extremely strong, showing outstanding empathy with both student and parental needs.

If I analyse my work in the last seven years at m.h Coaching & Leadership, I guess the real emphasis of what we do is all about relationships and people. Many thousands of books have been written on the theory of leadership and education, but in reality, success really comes down to trust, honesty, respect, humility, empathy and self-belief.

And of course never forgetting love.

Everyday in my business, it is a priviledge to be allowed into the lives of so many people and to be able to help build legacies for the future.



‘Your protection will keep me safe’

I guess it’s time to pick up from where a very personal illness stopped me in my tracks.

Last year I was diagnosed with radical prostate cancer, which required immediate life saving surgery. Sitting opposite your consultant who has just informed you that unless he operates immediately, ‘you will die’, has a profound effect upon your immortality.

I realised that being a leader, being a husband, being a father and being a son all merge into one with the same principles applying at every turning point.

It was not fear that consumed me at this moment, but a knowledge of the impact this news would have upon my six children. As a father I know intimately how each of my children handle emotion and have always encouraged them to allow their feelings to be known. This, I feel, is a massive strength and as the reality of my personal situation began to unfold, how each one of them would react came straight to my heart.

One would listen, then refuse to believe, one would logically decide ‘this happens every day and you’ll be fine’, one would smile and say ‘it’ll be ok’, one would realise the enormity but look on the positive side. One would totally break down and for two days be unable to function, and finally one would follow me around like a lost sheep for two weeks whenever I was there.

In reality leadership is all about:

  • Love
  • Emotion
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Listening
  • Story-telling
  • Transparency
  • Authenticity

So there it is.

I then went on to achieve a full recovery, thanks to the brilliance of my consultant, the love of my family, the prayers of my friends and above all my faith.

Being a small business, cash flow is obviously a huge part of its day to day operation. My clients pre and post surgery have been absolutely amazing. Two of them paid invoices twice; one for my business and one for myself – an unbelievable gesture which allowed me to recover without any financial worries.

Since my return to work in January 2017 my diary is full until April. For this I say a humble thank you.

Not what they can do for you, what you can do for them…

Currently at the mid-point of a running a unique life skills programme which envelops a whole school culture and ethos, working with the leadership team, one-to-one sixth formers, pupils from years nine, 10 and 11, and importantly delivering a mirror image values based learning opportunity to the parents.

This is allowing me the priviledge of observing and coaching values, beahviours and attitudes from top-down within the whole school environment.