Former Wolves captain Karl Henry has made many visits to support the Good Shepherd down the years.
Both when he was a player at Wolves, since hanging up his boots and also in his role as an Ambassador with Wolves Foundation.
This week he was back, not only helping out in the dining service and meeting service users, but also being reunited with his former headteacher at Coppice School, now none other than the Mayor of Wolverhampton – Councillor Dr Mike Hardacre.
The Good Shepherd were delighted to welcome both Karl and the Mayor and Mayoress, Lynn Plant, who had a tour of the Centre to find out more about the charity’s work, as well as helping out with the dining service both in the kitchen and handing out meals.
“It is important for me to visit lots of charities and groups around Wolverhampton and important to be here at the Good Shepherd, although I fear I may have been more of a hindrance than a help,” said Councillor Dr Hardacre.
“The Good Shepherd is important because we know that life is difficult for people for all sorts of reasons at the moment, particularly those who feel they are at the bottom with no one caring for them or looking after them.
“The Good Shepherd is an absolute institution, and it was a complete pleasure to work with such a committed bunch of people, both the staff and the volunteers who are here out of the goodness of their hearts to make sure people who wouldn’t have enough food receive all the provisions that they need.
“It is a very impressive piece of work and everyone involved should be very proud of what they are doing.”
Karl was also pleased to be able to do his bit to help, having previously visited the Good Shepherd at its former premises on Darlington Street as well as the official opening when moving to the current site opposite Molineux.
“When I was a player, we often visited the Good Shepherd at Christmas time, where we could see first-hand the fantastic work which they do,” he said.
“It has always been a pleasure to try and help and support when I can.”
Karl has also been a keen supporter of Wolves Foundation since becoming their first ambassador four-and-a-half years ago, including attending all four previous Molineux Sleepouts, with the fifth one now taking place on Friday, November 17th.
Both he and the Mayor are encouraging as many people as possible to either take part in, or donate to the event, with all funds raised shared between the Good Shepherd and the Foundation.
“I would like to offer my own complete support for the Molineux Sleepout and encourage people to support the event,” said Councillor Dr Hardacre, who is planning to pop in on the night.
“We know what a good job Wolves Foundation carry out for people of all ages across the community and the fantastic work being done by the Good Shepherd in helping people affected by the cost of living.”
“With my role as an Ambassador of Wolves Foundation, and the visits I have made to the Good Shepherd, there are two fantastic causes who will benefit from the Sleepout,” added Karl.
“I have taken part every year so far, and am really looking forward to getting involved again.
“When you know about the work that both the charities deliver, being able to support them has such a positive impact on the local community.
“It’s such an important event and I have said already, let’s make this the best one yet, so please buy your tickets, get family and friends along or support someone who is taking part.”
Both Karl, who was born in Wolverhampton and brought up in Ashmore Park, and the Mayor, were delighted to catch up with each other, many years after the time they were on different sides of the classroom at what is now Coppice Performing Arts School.
“It was a pleasure to see Karl again and brings back memories not just of him but his sister, the formidable Latoya,” said Councillor Dr Hardacre.
“She is a character and one of those people I always admired because she always asked the important question of ‘why’ – ‘why have I got to do this’?
“And if anybody came anywhere near Karl threatening anything they quickly submitted to the wrath of Latoya – and that includes one or two members of staff!
“Karl has always been a gentleman, and both he and Latoya were brought up so well by their mum and stepdad Dave.
“His commitment at school was total, and I have been so thrilled to watch his career as a footballer and then what he has done since he finished with his support for charities.
“He is a good man who is trying to make the world a better place, and I have always been very proud of the young people from Ashmore Park and I still am.
“People like Karl are a real credit and make you remember why you went into the job in the first place.”
For Karl, who left school to go and join Stoke’s youth set-up where he made his footballing breakthrough before later returning to Wolverhampton to lead Wolves to the Premier League, he remains extremely appreciative of the support of his former headteacher.
“I have such fond memories of Mr Mayor as my headteacher and I loved my time at school,” he recalls.
“He was completely understanding of my situation in talking to me and my Mum when I left, because moving up to Stoke halfway through my GCSEs was a big call from everyone concerned.
“We all know how few people go on to become footballers and I really appreciated that decision as, without it, I might not have enjoyed the career that I did.
“I always thank a lot of people for the career that I had, from my parents to all the coaches, but I would include the Mayor in that because that was a huge moment.
“Going to school in Ashmore Park, for a lot of teachers it was probably quite challenging, but they always had my utmost respect because they made it a real pleasure and myself, my sister and my Mum look back with nothing but fond memories.
“And then to see our former Headteacher go on and become mayor, on social media I think it brought a whole generation of us back together again saying: ‘have you seen who has become the Mayor?!’
“It was something that we all enjoyed seeing and I think he is doing Ashmore Park and the surrounding areas proud and is doing a fantastic job.”