Broadcaster Charlie Webster remembers friend who inspired BBC abuse documentary

TV presenter Charlie Webster has remembered the “courageous and strong” friend who was part of her childhood running group that inspired her BBC documentary about their abusive sports coach.

Webster, 40, said she was “so sad, hurt and pained” to announce childhood friend Katie had killed herself while living in Sydney, Australia, where she had moved to “start a new life”.

The former Sky Sports host is raising funds to bring Katie’s body back to the UK to be with her family and to “give her the peace she so desperately sought”.

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Announcing the news on Twitter, Webster wrote: “Katie is my friend, was part of my running group that I made my BBC documentary Nowhere To Run: Abused By Our Coach about.”

On the GoFundMe page, Webster said the pair used to train together as part of an all-girls running club in Sheffield and described her as her “best friend” at the time.

“We were so tight-knit, we shared everything, our ups, winning races and smashing personal bests, and our downs, pushing ourselves in training and the pressures our coach put on us.

“What Katie and I didn’t share, as did none of us at the time, is the sexual abuse we were suffering at the same time, at the hands of our coach.”

When Webster was 19, their coach was convicted and sent to prison for 10 years. In 2021, she documented her experience alongside victims including Katie in Nowhere To Run: Abused By Our Coach for the BBC.

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Webster said: “Our coach preyed on us, he manipulated us, and he got in our heads. He created friction in the group, fear and pitted us against each other, all to make sure nobody told anybody what was going on. We were just children.

“She (Katie) was incredibly courageous, strong and so brave to stand up in court and testify against him. Katie saved so many other children from being sexually abused by this abhorrent rapist.

“We know there were girls abused before us but Katie made sure there were none after us.”

– Anyone who needs support can call Samaritans free of charge on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website.