Belfast Telegraph

George Best's son Calum backs action plan to support children of alcoholics by telling his story at Westminster

By Claire McNeilly

He has been accused in the past of cashing in on his late father's name.

But now Calum Best is about to tell his story for a worthy cause.

The son of former Northern Ireland and Manchester United superstar George has thrown his weight behind a new campaign to assist the children of alcoholics.

American-born Best incurred the wrath of his Belfast relatives last year after publishing an autobiography that claimed his father - who died 11 years ago at the age of 59 - had physically abused him during booze-fuelled rages.

His uncle Norman McNarry, husband of the troubled football idol's sister Barbara, said Calum's book Second Best caused "disgust, hurt and upset" to George's close family.

Now, however, 35-year-old Calum is actively supporting a cross-party group of MPs who are developing an action plan to help Britain's 2.6 million innocent victims of alcoholism.

The model and reality television star will tell of his experiences with George at a forthcoming House of Commons hearing.

Joining him will be Kim Woodburn, presenter of Channel 4 show How Clean Is Your House?, and Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and daughter of actor Anthony Booth.

Like Calum, they are children of alcoholics.

The aim is to assist Britain's 2.6m innocent victims of booze - the one in every five children who lives with a mother or father who is a heavy drinker.

Calum was born in 1981, long after his father's halcyon days as a professional footballer had ended.

He lived mostly in America with his mother Angie - something Bestie's family were keen to point out when Calum was writing about what "living with George" was like.

Father and son, however, did spend enough time together for the teenage Calum to be aware of the devastating illness that not only resulted in George being given a liver transplant, but that would ultimately claim the star, who died of multiple organ failure on November 25, 2005.

The former European Footballer of the Year was buried at Roselawn Cemetary just over a week later following a funeral service at Stormont attended by thousands.

Calum has been vocal about his own troubles with alcohol.

Indeed, new research suggests that children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop a drink problem themselves, and three times more likely to consider suicide. The Children of Alcoholics initiative was born out of a Freedom of Information request that revealed 84% of councils had no plans for a strategy to help children in need despite a 30% surge in alcohol-specific deaths and rising A&E admissions due to drink-related harm.

The cross-party group aims to use the evidence from Calum and others to draw up the first ever Manifesto for Children of Alcoholics for debate.

Belfast Telegraph


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