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Formby businessman and ex-footballer is now helping the homeless in Liverpool

Hugh McAuley enjoyed a career in professional football with Cheltenham Town, making 100 appearances in four seasons with the Robins. Since hanging up his boots, he has returned to the north west and for the past year he has been helping the homeless in Liverpool.

One night a week he works for the city's Hope Project, a group of volunteers who take to the streets to give out food, drink and clothing.

Hugh said: "I heard about the charity through a friend of mine and as soon as I gave it a go, I was hooked on it,"

"Liverpool is a great city, but there are a lot of people struggling and it's all about helping out those less fortunate than yourself. Seven or eight of us go out every Tuesday night and do what we can, taking flasks of soup, tea and coffee and things like that. Companies have helped us out with food too, so it's a real community effort."

Hugh appeals for donations through his social media channels and he has been astounded by the response.

"One guy phoned offering us 90 thermal coats, so we'll be dropping those off as it starts to get colder now," he said.

"Some of the things I've seen have been shocking and while some of these people have problems with drink or drugs, others have simply fallen on hard times due to bad luck."

"One man never accepts any food or drink from us, but he always thanks us for talking to him, that's all he wants - someone to chat to. I find myself getting emotional over it at times and the people I have met aren't greedy and they look out for each other, which is so warming."

"It's one of the best things I've ever done and I wish I had more time to devote to it. It really makes you appreciate what you have and I have found myself looking at life in a different way since starting this."

Hugh said: "A big thank you to Marc-elliot Evans from the Lunch Hour in Formby for preparing all the sandwiches, soups, teas and coffee for the homeless."

Hugh McAuley started out in the academy at Liverpool before spells at Northwich Victoria and Leek Town.

Steve Cotteril paid Leek £20,000 to bring him to Cheltenham in the summer of 1999 and he scored the club's first home Football League goal from the penalty spot in a 1-0 win over Hull City. He went on to play for Kidderminster Harriers, Forest Green Rovers, Aldershot Town and Tamworth.

Now 39, Hugh lives in Formby with his family and is waiting on planning permission to build a new £5 million pound sports facility in Formby which was left out of the local plan until thousands of residents sent in forms to back the scheme on the site of the old Formby FC.

Hugh said: "I'd Just like to say thank you to the Community of Formby and surrounding areas. We had thousands of forms that went into the council backing the scheme and the Government inspector has now re-opened the hearing for the site which is booked in for Tuesday 1st November in the ballroom at Bootle Town hall. Sefton Council have pledged their support. We have everything crossed and we're praying that the Inspector puts this site through now."

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