He was 18. He was on the cusp of a promising career as a professional footballer with a regional trial lined up for England and Burnley Football Club.
Life could not have been better for Kieran Fletcher but all that changed in an instant.
Bored one evening, a pal suggested they have a trip to Blackpool. So after hopping into Kieran’s car the duo set off.
Within minutes Kieran lost control of his vehicle and skidded on black ice into two women out for a walk with their dogs.
“I just remember the car skidding across the road, I tried to stop but just couldn’t,” said Kieran.
The accident happened on a notorious stretch of Bacup Road in Weir and one of the older women involved died after the collision.
It was Kieran’s mum who broke the news to him at the family home late that night. For a whole year after Kieran attended trial in court and was later charged with driving without due care and attention. It was a terrible accident that devastated so many lives,
There isn’t a day goes by that Kieran doesn’t think about that horrendous night that changed so many lives, not only his own.
And those events changed the course of his life for he decided not to go for the England or Burnley FC trial, the same trial that his cousin Marc Pugh who now plays for premier league side AFC Bournemouth, went for.
Even though the opportunity was still open to him Kieran had lost all enthusiasm.
He said: “I started to focus on others rather than just myself and just wanted to give something back.
“I went from being competitive, ambitious and driven towards the only thing I ever wanted to wondering exactly what life is all about.
“It just seemed pointless to want something just for myself and I just wanted to give something back for the life I took away and my mission today is to make a difference and do just that everyday.”
Instead of becoming the next footballing star, Kieran decided to turn to education and attend college. He enrolled at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started studying for a degree in sports coaching and child development.
When he wasn’t poring over his books Kieran started offering his services to schools as a football coach.
After losing his driving licence, he would pedal for miles on his bike with a bag of footballs crammed into a net on his back to run the sessions at schools all over East Lancashire.
“I absolutely loved it,” said Kieran. “I was so enthused from seeing the children enjoying themselves and I felt like I was doing something really worthwhile even though it was hard work.”
So popular were the sessions that Kieran was running up to 20 a week and even got offered a job coaching football at Bolton Football Club Academy, which he turned down. And this was because one night he woke at 2am, the so called lightbulb moment, with an idea that completely transformed his life.
The idea was for Kieran to use his degree to coach children and make a difference other than just football.
Kieran started developing his business plan with the local business enterprise trust where he was awarded a grant of £1,500 to kick start his idea.
He invested this in a rusty old van and a huge inflatable that he stored in his parents’ back garden shed.
Kieran then began to deliver health and fitness inflatable fun days in local primary schools transporting his heavy equipment from school to school.
It was only when a local headteacher suggested that he should actually be charging for his services because the fun days were so good that he struck upon the idea of launching it as a business that today is known as FUNDA.
FUNDA was born in 2006 and in the past 10 years it has grown from a small back bedroom operation hosting just Saturday morning football coaching sessions, after school clubs, fun days and childcare for children and parents to an award winning brand that is reaching out nationwide and across the world including Australia where Kieran’s FUNDA Story, a home based learning resource and approach for children aged three to seven, has been taken on board.
Today FUNDA is Ofsted registered and has delivered in over 150 primary schools across the North West, reaching out to 25,000 children every week.
Kieran has even been introduced to Her Majesty the Queen during a Royal visit to Burnley College where Kieran holds regular sessions.
Kieran is now a children’s author aswell as publishing his own book on how to coach children and start your own business that is now on Amazon.
Kieran’s passion for FUNDA is palpable. He now employs around 18 full time staff and works from his base at Business First in Burnley.
His business is evolving constantly as he tackles the growing problem of childhood obesity and physical inactivity by running education programmes and designing resources and products that entice youngsters away from their ipads and computers to outdoor activities and physical creative play.
He said: “It really is true, modern living means that many children are missing out on the fundamental skills everyone needs to achieve their best in life.
“Why is this, take a look around you, technology has taken over.
“I mean mobile devices like smart phones, tablets and computerised games. Televisions and even cars mean that children spend more time sitting and less time doing.
“One in four children leaving primary school suffers from childhood obesity and primary schools are only delivering a maximum of two hours worth of physical education per week and so many children before the age of four or just not ready for school”.
And his business FUNDA is now on a mission to increase the hours devoted to PE sessions in schools and to increase the social interaction between adult and child so that the next generation is fit, strong and healthy.
Kieran is now 30 and his fiancee Rachel Robinson has just given birth to the couple’s first child, an adorable baby boy, Theo George.
Describing Rachel as his “rock” Kieran said: “I feel very blessed and grateful right now. Rachel has been with me every step of the way and always had faith in me and encouraged me every step of the way.”
There is no doubt that Kieran is making his mark on society and making a difference everyday and he says this is just the start towards his goal of becoming a voice for physical education and children’s development.