Sheffield sports journalist Charlie Webster opens up about the abuse she endured in new BBC documentary Nowhere to Run

Charlie Webster reunites with other people from a Sheffield running club who share their personal experiences of abuse by their former coach Paul North in the BBC documentary Nowhere to Run: Abused by our Coach.

Charlie Webster. (Pic credit: Ian West / PA Wire)

The documentary was shown on BBC One on September 20 and featured sports journalist Charlie Webster, from Sheffield, recalling details of abuse she suffered from when she was just 15 years old.

A scene from Nowhere to Run showed Charlie meeting up with former runners at an all-girls running club in Sheffield who have also been abused by Paul North. In 2002, he was given a 10-year sentence after one of his victims spoke out.

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Who is Charlie Webster?

The 38-year-old is a presenter from Sheffield, although she has in the past also lived in Crookes, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Leeds.

She studied language and linguistics at Newcastle University, where she worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor and model.

Her main passion is sport and she moved to Spain, where she made her TV presenting debut for Real Madrid TV.

She went on to join ESPN where she presented football programmes, Setanta Sports News and ITV4’s live GP2 coverage.

Her career continued to flourish when she worked as a sports journalist for BBC Look East and Channel 4, where she was the voice of a World Superbikes highlights show.

She has also worked for Sky Sports News from November 2010 to March 2014 and has written for Huffington Post, Sheffield Star and football.co.uk.

What happened?

Charlie was sexually abused by her running coach, Paul North, in 1997, while she was a member at an all-girls running club in Sheffield.

She used to have bladder problems as she was living with a violent and controlling stepfather and would sometimes wet the bed.

Her coach was aware of her bladder problems and offered to help her during a private session, where the assault took place.

Talking of her experience in the documentary, Ms Webster said: “I remember thinking, ‘this is not nice, this is uncomfortable but this is going to help me, this is going to solve that problem.’

“I just would take myself away I think. He just talked to me the whole time, I’d almost wish it had been done in a violent way, because then it wouldn’t have been so confusing and people would spot the bruises, people don’t spot the bruises in your head. I felt so alone.”

Charlie was very close with the girls at the running club, some of whom were also being abused by North, but she never told any of them about the abuse. She admitted that it ‘became my own secret that I pushed really far down’.

She was 19 years old at the time of his arrest and it was only then she realised she wasn’t the only one he abused.

Charlie decided to contact the girls from her running club after one of their mothers reached out to her and told her that her daughter had also been abused by the same man.

She first publicly spoke out about the abuse in 2014.

North was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and one count of rape in 2002 and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.