Glenavon backs coach’s charity drive after son’s drugs death

Paul Millar (fourth left) with Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton, to his immediate left, launches the partnership before Saturday's game with Ballymena

Glenavon Football Club has been a source of tremendous support to coach Paul Millar who lost his son to a drug overdose in March this year.

Philip was just 26 when he was found dead at his home in Helen’s Bay.

Paul Millar (left) and son Philip in happier times

His father Paul, who is assistant manager at Glenavon, asked for donations to Addiction NI in lieu of flowers at his son’s funeral.

It helped to raise a total of £4,500 for the charity. Now the club has launched an official charity partnership with Addiction NI.

Mr Millar said: “We knew about Philip’s problems, but we didn’t know how ill he really was.

“Addicts become very good liars. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol or gambling they will be very good at letting on it’s not as bad as it is.

“It’s human nature to try to cover things up. You don’t want people to know how bad things really are.

“He would tell us he’d been clean for three months, but his medical records told a different story.

“His mum and I fought hard to get him treatment, but our pleas fell on deaf ears.”

Mr Millar added: “People say it’s the path they chose, but once you start on a path, the addiction takes over and you’re not in control.

“If you’re addicted to something like prescription drugs or gambling your mental health will suffer. It’s a downward spiral.

“My son was in a bad way. He was a prisoner to his addiction.”

He added: “I wouldn’t wish what Philip went through and what we’ve went through on my worst enemy.

“I can’t describe what it’s like to lose a child. There are good days and bad days. My friends, family and football club have been a tremendous support.”

Mr Millar said it was brave of Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty to speak publicly about his gambling addiction.

“It’s important to talk about these things,” he said.

On Saturday, before their game with Ballymena, Glenavon FC announced Addiction NI as their charity partner of the year.

Mr Millar said: “It was only after Philip’s death I found out about Addiction NI. But that’s like many things in life, you don’t know half of what’s going on around you until you’re in that situation.

“Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer approached me about Addiction NI becoming Glenavon’s chosen charity partner for the year. It was a really nice gesture from the club.

“This football club have been really supportive. Right through the club from the board to the players to the staff to the fans.”

In another fundraising push Mr Millar – along with his friends Andy Matheson and Gordon Davidson – are on target to raise £10,000 in memory of Philip Millar. One of the activities they are taking part in is Sober October.

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