Part of my Birmingham Mail Column on Weds Nov 14th 2018
I was very privileged and honoured to be invited to Sir Doug Ellis’s funeral last Friday. The service was touching and hit just the right note with those making tributes. Former Arsenal chairman David Dein, BBC newsreader Nick Owen and Tony Hales reflecting on Doug’s amazing life and career in football and in particular his love affair with Aston Villa.
The highlight was to hear his granddaughter Elenya singing the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah it was truly emotional.
Over the years Doug has had his detractors and I have had a few run in’s with him. Many will talk about his ego and how he liked to be photographed with the famous and yes he certainly did.
However over the last few years I have been an ambassador for the South and City College where Doug was also an ambassador and President of their “InBusiness” network. It was there that I first say how generous Doug was and how he impacted on so many youngsters lives.
So it would be wrong of me not to take this opportunity to show the other side of Doug Ellis A side that was not in the media and believe me he did not ask for or want publicity.
He was a warm and generous benefactor to the South and City College where he donated over a quarter of a million pounds so that hundreds of young Birmingham students from all walks of life and all sorts of backgrounds could have a practical and invaluable start to their work career that otherwise would have been denied to them.
This improved their employability opportunities through real life workshops, and real life work experience placements. That allowed the apprenticeship scheme to develop and as a consequence provide the youngsters with fantastic opportunities to gain apprenticeships in businesses throughout the West Midlands. Without Doug’s amazing generosity this would not have been possible.
It was the same with Childline, now part of the NSPCC, where he donated two million pounds so they could keep their overnight counselling centre alive when it was due to be axed. This allowed thousands of youngsters who were the victims of abuse, bullying, or wanted to talk about anything that was worrying them to call at the time they probably felt most vulnerable and that was at night.
This wonderful donation by Doug has without argument saved the lives of many children and prevented others from abuse.
As an ambassador and trustee for the Birmingham Charity Help Harry Help Others I was hosting a dinner where Doug Ellis was a guest. Harry’s mom Georgie Moseley was making a speech about Harry Moseley and the impact he had on so many people before and since his passing at the tender age of 11. She spoke of her incredible journey helping hundreds of local causes where people have been touched by cancer.
When she returned to her seat Doug said he had been touched by what she had said promptly handed her a substantial cheque for the charity.
There are many other examples of his wonderful generosity that went unnoticed.
Villa Park is a testament to him while his love for the club was unconditional and without doubt had he still been in charge the club would not have been facing any FFP problems and would probably not been relegated from the Premier League.