A LOCAL youth worker's passion to give children a voice has taken him to Buckingham Palace and all over the world.

Alex Stevens, the chief executive of Youth Connections in Burns Square, had initially wanted to be a social worker but entered the youth field instead.

It would change his life forever, leading to a top job with international charity Save the Children.

Alex, 67, said: "I just wanted to try to make a difference. I am very passionate about the rights of children and have been all throughout my career.

"Working with Save the Children was a big challenge, it took me all throughout Scotland, the UK and London, working with children's' panel members and social work departments.

"We did a lot of work on the UN Convention of Children's Rights. I promoted this with nearly all local authorities in Scotland and quite a few in England to effect change."

Alex also got the chance to rub shoulders with royalty.

Greenock Telegraph:

He said: "I worked on a series of seminars speaking to celebrities at Buckingham Palace back in April 1993.

"When big celebrities used to open supermarkets or shopping malls, they would donate their fees to Save The Children, in turn they would get to meet the Princess Anne and get to hear about the charity's work at the palace.

"Meeting Princess Anne was an honour, she is a very well informed person, to the point, and always keen to learn about the work being done. I just felt it was part of my job but it was exciting."

Alex's job also took him all over the world, including to Israel.

Alex said: "I went to a conference in Tel Aviv and spent a week in Jerusalem. I worked with an organisation called Defence for Children and met all sorts of people, Palestinian, Israeli, American, New Zealanders and representatives from all over the world."

"My memory is of overwhelming kindness and the beauty of the Old City immersed in the new."

Alex is very proud of his Larkfield roots and of Inverclyde, the place which has grounded a career spanning 50 years.

After passing his '11-plus' exam he went to St Columba's initially in Peat Road then Bayhill.

Alex volunteered at his school youth club and then was taken on as a junior youth leader beginning his journey in the field.

He said: "I always thought kids weren't given their place, especially poor youngstees, and I have a liking for the underdog.

"I had a big sister Jeanette who had learning disabilities. The doctors didn't realise she was deaf until she was seven, so that had an impact on her speech. She was a major influence in my life. It taught me a lot about how folk generally respond to difference, and how to handle that.

Sadly Jeanette passed away in 2017, aged 60.

Alex had several jobs at the heart of the community, as a care officer in The Nite Shelter in Brymner Street, then while a social work trainee he became the manager at Gibshill Community Centre and gave up the traineeship.

He said: "It was brilliant, we had an unemployed section, a youth club three nights a week, adult activities, a lunch club.

"We could make a difference, we were seeing guys who were unemployed discovering new talents and doing gigs for people. Mums got involved too and we set up a fashion show, getting all the clothes from the Co-op.

"We even made a record. That was in 1980 and all the national papers came along with Radio Clyde and it was going to be a double page spread, then poor John Lennon got shot. But we made a page three in the Tele."

Alex also ran his own consultancy firm for 12 years and this was followed by a brief period at The Trust before the Youth Connections post came up.

He said: "I love working here. I have a brilliant time because I employ people who I think could be better at doing the job than me."

As well as being devoted to young people and the community, Alex is very much a family man. He has been happily married to assistant registrar Irene since 1979 and they have two daughters, one who teaches at St Mary's Primary and the other who is an occupational therapist in Glasgow.

Alex also dotes on his three grandsons.

He said: "I am very proud of my kids, my wife and grandsons and I am also proud to be still working and still enjoying it. "