Dad of Sunderland AFC fan who took his own life appeals for donations of football equipment as he prepares to launch charity in son's name

The dad of a Sunderland AFC fan who took his own life is appealing for donations of football equipment to put back into the community as he prepares to launch a charity in his son’s memory.

Keen footballer Harvey McWilliams took his own life aged just 18 in December last year, leaving his friends and family devastated.

The massive Sunderland AFC fan and promising player attended every game he could, as well as playing for Darlington FC’s academy, and was also involved in the game at a grassroots level in Exeter, where he studied sports science at university.

Harvey’s Dad, Michael McWilliams, 46, was left devastated by the death of his son, but now plans to launch a charity in his name, The Harvey McWilliams Foundation, providing football opportunities for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to play, as well as offering mental health support.

Michael is hoping to get the charity officially launched by the end of the year and, to kick start it, is asking for donations of new or used football equipment, such as boots, shinpads and goalkeeper gloves, which will then be put back into the community.

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He said: “It has taken us a while as a family to adapt to life without Harvey, but as we continue to adapt this charity will give us a chance to do something positive in his name, give us comfort and feel like Harvey is still with us.

"When his boots no longer fit, Harvey would always give his away to someone who needed them and that’s where the idea for the charity comes from.

Harvey McWilliams (left) and his dad Michael

"As well as the football side, we also hope the mental health support will be invaluable to people and no one should have to struggle on their own without support.

“Since launching the appeal for football equipment, the response online has been amazing. I even had Tom White from Sky Sports News get involved and it’s just so overwhelming and means the world to us.”

As well as being co-owner of his wife’s business, Kelly’s Smellies, Michael works as a facilitator for ManHealth and is only too aware of the issues many young men experience with their mental health.

He added: “Mental health is such a big thing and it’s so, so important that there is support out there for people going through a difficult time and that people know this support exists.”

Harvey playing for Darlington FC academy

Michael is originally from Bethnal Green, in East London and met his wife and Harvey’s mum Kelly McWilliams, from Darlington, where the pair live, in the capital while she was studying and the pair moved to the North East in 1998.

Earlier this year, in March, football fans from across the region took part in a 130 mile walk in memory of Harvey, raising funds for ManHealth and visiting visit 17 professional and semi-professional clubs across the North East.

This Saturday, ahead of Sunderland’s home game against QPR, there will be a drop off point for donations of equipment at the Beacon of Light.

Michael can be contacted about donations via email on [email protected] or using the @Cockney_Boy handle on Twitter.

Harvey playing for Darlington FC academy