It was September 2015 and it was my birthday. I was 61 years old and when I looked in the mirror my dear old Dad looked back at me. I turned on the BBC news and something incredible happened. On the screen was a heart-breaking photograph of a dead three-year-old boy. His body had been washed up on a beach in Turkey.
“Aylan Kurdi and his five-year-old brother, Galip, drowned after their overloaded boat capsized off of the coast of Turkey.”
Aylan’s body had been discovered on one of Turkey’s beaches in the Bodrum Peninsula. Images of the ghastly find, photographed by Nilufer Demir from Turkey’s Dogan News Agency, had been shared on social media and on the front pages of newspapers around the world, particularly in the UK and Europe.
The image of a distressed Turkish gendarme carrying the lifeless body of little Aylan was too much and I just sobbed and sobbed.
The tears ran down my cheeks uncontrollably and, as much as I tried, I could not stop them. Everything that had happened had just been magnified a million times in that single moment. The tears were not just for Aylan. They were born from something else, a profound connection with everything that had gone before.
I stared through my watery glaze and was suddenly transported back in time. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with 70,000 people in Wembley Stadium. I was watching a small African child in a refugee camp. Her tiny famine-ravaged body trying simply to stand up.
As I looked around, everyone was crying with me.
The mist slowly cleared and the image of young Aylan returned. The dark-haired toddler wearing a bright-red T-shirt and blue shorts, lying face down in the surf not far from Turkey’s fashionable resort town of Bodrum.
That was it.
That was the moment I decided to write this book.
I would tell the story of Sport Aid and the journey behind it all.
What 130 kids in a London office and 20 million people around the world really did.
What we achieved and more importantly . . .
What must be done now.
I would write a book for my children, my grandchildren and anyone else who wants to help change the world in which they live.
If I inspire just one, it will be worth it.