IT was rugby legend Brian Moore’s revelations that he was sexually abused by a teacher that led to one of Alan Birkby’s victims finally telling police of the horrific abuse he had kept secret for decades.
In his autobiography, Mr Moore revealed a teacher, who is now dead, abused him while he was at Whitehill Primary School in Illingworth in Halifax.
Speaking to the Courier as he returned to his home town for a signing of the book in 2010, Mr Moore said: “I want to say to anyone who hasn’t looked for help that I know what it feels like to feel alone in the middle of a group of friends or family – people who love you.
“If a person feels they are able to find the courage to speak to one person then they’ll never feel alone again.”
The rugby player’s bravery inspired one of Birkby’s victims to speak up.
He said he had told his mum and another teacher about Birkby’s abuse when it happened, but neither took any action.
After that, he kept the terrible abuse a secret.
“It was the first time that I needed to complain and I had been ignored,” he said.
“It made me a nervous kid and as a boy I thought I was a bad kid.
“People used to ask me why I was always sad.”
He was just seven years old but to avoid Birkby, he started dodging school - a practice that continued at secondary school.
“At secondary school, I was vulnerable and I got bullied so I didn’t go to school,” he said.
He said being ignored when he spoke out about Birkby stopped him speaking out about being bullied.
Missing lessons led him to leave school with no qualifications.
He has fought to make a career for himself but says all his life has struggled to stand up for himself.
“It’s meant that a lot of my life I have been walked all over,” he said. “A lot of people have taken advantage of me.”
When he did contact the police, he said it was terrifying.
“It was scary talking through it again,” he said.
“Watching the video evidence that I gave, when I’m talking about what happened I can see that I don’t want to talk about it.”
When he heard that Birkby had admitted the abuse, he said he was “elated”.
“It was the best news I’d had all year,” he said.
And speaking out and seeing Birkby brought to justice has helped him deal with what happened, he says.
“I feel no shame about it now,” he said.
“I was only a boy when it happened. What could I do?”
Anyone who has suffered abuse can call the specially-trained officers in Calderdale Police’s Safeguardaing Team via 101.