Former footballer to kick start reading campaign in Brent

Charlie Oatway will be at Harlesden Library

Charlie Oatway will be at Harlesden Library - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Charlie Oatway will give an inspiration talk at Harlesden Library

A former footballer-turned- author will kickstart this year’s borough reading challenge by giving an inspirational talk in Harlesden.

Charlie Oatway will be visiting Harlesden Library Plus to tell readers why they should tackle the Six Book Challenge.

The 39-year-old spent his early life in and out of jail before turning his life around through football.

In his autobiography, Tackling Life, published last year, he gives a frank account of his past.

The free event, organised by Brent Libraries, will officially launch the challenge.

Mr Oatway played professional football for Wimbledon AFC, Yeading, Cardiff City, Torquay, Brentford, and Brighton and Hove Albion.

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He captained Brighton and Hove Albion when they won two championships and three promotions. And, after injury ended his playing career, he worked for Albion in the Community, leading their award-winning adult learning programmes.

He is now Brighton’s first-team coach.

Born and raised in west London, his parents were huge QPR fans and his first name includes all 11 members of Queen’s Park Rangers 1973 first-team squad – Anthony Philip David Terry Frank Donald Stanley Gerry Gordon Stephen James.

He said: “It’s been well-documented that I have struggled with my reading and writing from a young age and I know first-hand how hard that can be to come to terms with.

“As a player, I kept my friends close to help me to get through the day-to-day problems. But I was always aware that I had to do something about it. I was very lucky to be able to seek help from Albion in the Community and, if my story can inspire others, I’m always willing to help.

“I hope that I have shown people that it’s not something to be embarrassed about. Instead, it’s something you need to challenge head on.”

The event is at the library in Craven Park Road on February 5 from 2pm to 3pm.