Pat McGibbon: Ex-Man Utd and NI player honoured for mental health charity work

Pat McGibbon founded the Train to be Smart programme in 2013
Pat McGibbon's brother Phillip took his own life less than a year after the footballer moved to Manchester United in 1993

Former Manchester United player Pat McGibbon has received an award from the Prime Minister in recognition for his work aimed at increasing mental health resilience in young people.

The ex-Northern Ireland player founded the 'Train to be Smart' football coaching centre in memory of his brother Phillip, who took his own life.

The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding volunteers.

"You should feel enormously proud," said Theresa May.

"You have shown remarkable courage and strength in responding to the personal tragedy of losing your brother Phillip by speaking out publicly on the importance of mental health.

"Your football coaching programmes are helping hundreds of young people in Northern Ireland to improve their mental wellbeing."

Starting with just 26 young people in 2013, the charity has since grown to support 200 living in deprived areas in Northern Ireland, using sport to promote positive mental health and well being.

Receiving support from leading football figures, including Sir Alex Ferguson and former Irish international player Roy Keane, the centre is open to children of all ages, abilities and needs.

The centre aims to increase mental health resilience while also improving sporting skills.

"I'm privileged to receive this volunteering award," said the Lurgan man, who also played for Swansea City, Wigan Athletic, Scunthorpe and Tranmere Rovers during his cross-channel career.

"I see first-hand each day the valuable efforts of our own volunteers at 'Train 2B SMART' and in the area of promoting positive mental health, volunteers play a hugely valuable role in giving back to local and wider community."

The former international footballer is the 1038th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA.

McGibbon played for Portadown and Glentoran after returning home in 2002 and has also managed Lurgan Celtic, Newry City and Portadown.

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