Ex-Saints star backs family’s anti-violence campaign

FORMER Northampton Saints star Ben Cohen is backing a campaign aimed at making people think twice before raising their fists after a Wellingborough man was killed with a single punch.

Stuart Martin, 28, died after he was hit in the back of the head outside Bar Life nightclub in Wellingborough on June 19, 2010.

A DVD featuring Mr Martin’s fiancee Katie Harthen and mother Joyce Martin speaking about the tragedy and their life afterwards is being shown in county schools.

It is part of an initiative which gives children the chance to compete by putting forward their ideas on how to publicise the message that one punch can kill and to try to offer a business solution to the problem.

And now rugby star Mr Cohen, who played 276 games for the Saints and won 57 caps for his country, has put his backing behind the project.

He is set to go along to the final of the competition, which will take place at The Lighthouse theatre in Kettering in July. At the final a project by one team from one school will be named the winner.

Mr Cohen’s backing is poignant as his father Peter Cohen, 58, was attacked in October 2000 at a Northampton nightclub as he tried to break up a fight. He died in hospital a month later.

Mr Cohen said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to support this initiative. Low-level violence and bullying are closely linked and to be able to bring awareness to the dangers of both is so important.

“Both can have a long-term damaging effect which I know about only too well after losing my Dad when he was attacked and beaten up in Northampton in 2000.

“People need to understand the consequences and think before they act.”

Miss Harthen said: “It’s really good he is supporting it. I think it will encourage the kids. He is a role model, especially for younger boys.”

Shaun Johnson from the Arson Task Force, one of the organisations involved in the initiative, said: “Ben is a Northamptonshire guy, sadly his dad died as a result of violence in the night-time economy, so violence has touched his life in the way it has touched Katie and Joyce’s lives.”