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Article date - 10 December 2018
In July 2017, 65-year old actor Len Saunders, known by many as his stage name ‘Len Banana,’ passed away nine days after being punched by a drunken 17-year-old in an unprovoked attack.
His attacker, Luke Woods from the town centre, was sentenced to four years in a detention centre for the ‘needless and vicious’ attack.
This year's campaign was launched on Saturday 8 December at the annual 'Len Banana Evening' at Lucem House Cinema +Plus, where Len used to volunteer. Len's family and friends joined Community Safety partners to show their support.
Ramy Soliman, Len’s nephew, said: "Len will always be remembered as a kind-hearted and warm person. A friend to all, he always gave and never asked for anything in return.
“The senseless callous attack on him, and its resulting consequences, should be a reminder to all to behave responsibly. We, Len's family, fully support this campaign.”
Targeted at those looking to sample the borough’s night time economy offer over the festive period, One Punch Can Kill is a partnership approach between St Helens Council and Merseyside Police which looks to keep residents and visitors safe by educating people about the dangers of alcohol and how it can affect the way they think.
As part of the campaign, bottled water and safety packs will be distributed to revellers on the busiest night during the lead-up to Christmas, known as ‘Mad Friday’ which falls on 21 December.
Several taxis have also been branded out with key messages in support of this year’s campaign.
St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, Councillor Burns said: “The whole community was shocked and saddened to hear about Len’s death so it’s a privilege to have the support of his family and friends as we look to spread this important message.
“Everyone enjoys a night out, especially at Christmas, and no one wants to ruin the fun but it’s important to remember that alcohol affects us all in different ways. Please drink and act responsibly.”
St Helens Local Policing Inspector Matt Drennan said: “This year, and every year, Merseyside Police is fully supporting the 'One Punch Can Kill’ campaign, alongside St Helens Council. Spreading the message ahead of a busy festive period is crucial so everyone keeps in mind what can happen when even a single punch is thrown.
“A seemingly innocuous disagreement or misunderstanding people have whilst drinking can and does have devastating consequences for victims, offenders, their families and friends, so people need to look after themselves and those they are out with over the festive period, and all year round.
“We always want to encourage people to come out into St Helens and enjoy their Christmas night out, and enjoy the many venues all year round. However, we also want to see people act responsibly and, where alcohol is concerned, know their limits.
“There will be extra police in St Helens to ensure that, for the vast majority of people who want to celebrate this festive period, their night is as safe as possible.”
For more information about the One Punch Can Kill campaign, visit: www.safersthelens.org.uk
Photo caption: Family and friends of the late Len Saunders joined representatives from St Helens Council and Merseyside Police at the launch of this year's One Punch Can Kill campaign at Lucem House Cinema.
Later that day, the cinema held a 'Len Banana Evening' to celebrate the life of Len, a much loved local poet, writer, musician and actor.