When our Head of Goalkeeping Glen Johnson saw news of an appeal by Southend United supporters to help their former player James Walker, he was deeply saddened by the circumstances and instantly got in touch with them to see how he could help. Glen himself once played for the Essex outfit at youth level, and the situation just struck a chord with him.
James played for Southend from 2008 to 2010 and then played for a number of other clubs, ultimately moving into the semi-professional game. In 2019 he was playing for Tilbury FC while working as a PE teacher at an Essex school. In February that year he was giving a lesson when he suddenly had a cardiac arrest and his heart ‘flat-lined’ for 30 minutes.
James came out of a coma 15 days later but was left with severe mental and physical impairments. He now needs 24 hour care, has the mental age of a young child, and receives all food and drink through a stent in his stomach. He is only 35, and has three young daughters.
News of this did not surface for some time, but late last year when they found out, the Southend United Ex Players Association (SUEPA) sprung into action, and working closely with James’s mum they have now launched a campaign to raise funds. A benefit match will be the culmination of the campaign on 28 May 2023. Proceeds will go towards helping fund much-needed additional therapy sessions for James. Details of this, and a link for making donations, can be found at:
To help spread the word SUEPA are launching a “We’re WIth You James” initiative where individuals or groups shout out those words in a short video clip, which SUEPA would then like to be shared on social media. The hope is that this will quickly grow to reach as many people as possible. Owen Coyle and the boys were proud to join in – see below.
Why not join in yourself and post your own clip? Whether it’s just yourself, with a group of friends or family, or at an event, it does not matter, just take part! It’s simple, fun and easy to do, simply tag in SUEPA on whatever social media outlet you use (they are on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln and Instagram) and if possible include the link to the campaign/donation details given above.
We are one football family.