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Uniting Skelmersdale through football

476. Carl Eaton

A Lancashire man who founded a football club for over 50 adults with learning disabilities.

In 2009, Carl Eaton founded Skem Men-Aces, a football team for adults with learning disabilities. Carl, who was born with Spina Bifida and is a right leg amputee, was inspired to organise the football club due to a lack of sports activities available for people with learning disabilities in his town of Skelmersdale. The team are now accredited with Liverpool FA, who are committed to supporting all disability football initiatives and clubs.

The club is one of a kind, not only unique in Skelmersdale but also in the North West – with over 50 people attending each week. The Skem Men-Aces have travelled all over the country with great success, entering and winning many competitions. Their biggest achievement to date was competing in the Special Olympics National Games in Bath in 2013, where they won a silver trophy. One of their players, Martin Makin, was also chosen to represent Mencap team GB for the European Championships in Geneva in June 2015. This year, Theo Duke and James Hughes are going out to Geneva to represent the team.

The Skem Men-Aces football team also take an active role in supporting and giving back to their local community. The football team have set up numerous charity events raising over £50,000 for different charities. One event raised over £1,300 for Alder Hey’s Imagine Appeal, which involved 30 footballers taking part In a sponsored truck pull. Carl also helps some of their football players who come from deprived backgrounds. He set up a hardship fund to assist some of their players by supplying boots, trainers, shin pads and other equipment where required.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Carl has shown a remarkable commitment to helping people with learning difficulties to enjoy the sport he loves. By creating the Skem Men-Aces, Carl has given people across Skelmersdale the opportunity to play football and get active as well as building their confidence and becoming part of a team. I am delighted to recognise him as the UK’s 476th Point of Light.”

Carl Eaton said:

“I do have to say that as proud and as honoured as I truly am at the receipt of this fabulous award, the true and real winners are each and every player in this incredible and very unique wonderful club and I’m so proud to call them my friends. Thanks to my wife and all of the coaches for their incredible support, to the Skem community, including Asda, and to our local papers for allowing our famous club to dominate the headlines. A very special thanks to all my Facebook friends for my constant Menacing and begging.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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