Monday, 8 May 2017

Stealth: A great Whitwick business - my Community Voice column

By the time you read this column I will no longer be your County Councillor. It’s been one of the great honours of my life to represent the people of Whitwick and Thringstone at County Hall; a privilege I will never forget. Thank you.

In looking back over the past four years I’m mindful of things achieved and disappointments of things not. I’ve been fortunate to visit Buckingham Palace, have dinner with inspirational servicemen and women and visit treasures in our county, like Castle House, which many don’t even know exist.

But as I look back, this column isn’t a place for politics, I am reminded of one night in particular.

About two years into my term of office at County Hall I received, out of the blue, an invite to be the guest of honour at a martial arts school annual prize giving. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening watching talented young people taking chunks out of each before going on to a rather raucous disco sadly interspersed, I’m sure for the students at least, with short bout of me ceremoniously doling out medals.

It was the first time I had ever been a ‘guest of honour’ and the poor kids who were receiving their trophies from me must have though ‘who the heck is this guy?’

But I learnt that night Stealth Black Belt Academy, based on Stephenson Industrial Estate, do things a little differently.

Stealth is the brainchild of Craig Smith, a man born and raised in Whitwick and who chose to return here with his family following a 12 year career in the Royal Air Force.

Craig wanted to do things differently though. Yes, Stealth was going to be about martial arts and physical fitness but it was also going to be fun so it shouldn't have surprised me when just a few days ago I caught up with Craig to hear about Stealth’s latest adventure.

I had already heard about the endurance challenges and fight nights that members undertook so I was somewhat surprised when Craig told me of his and his members next challenge. Strictly Come Dancing is coming to Coalville.

Over the past year Stealth members have taken it upon themselves to raise £5,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support and with just a few weeks to go look set to be breaking that barrier comfortably as they don sequins and Lycra for a night of quick steps and rhumbas.

As you might expect from a group of exceptionally fit martial artists these men and women are not taking the challenge lightly.

Craig tells me that with the demands of running a business he is only managing about sixty minutes of training a week whilst some of the competitors are putting in hour after hour to take part in group and show dances.

Judges have been arranged from local dance schools, a compère ‘the spitting image of Sir Bruce Forsyth’ will be on hand to make sure things go smoothly and exceptionally tight costumes have been ordered ‘and that’s just for the men.’

I ask Craig will the fundraising go on after the target has been raised? “Of course, we will be having our Queen’s Garden Party in June. It’s part of the ethos of Stealth: we want the business to be successful, we want to teach and help adults and children improve their fitness but we also want to have fun and give back to charity as well.”


It seems to me that isn’t a bad ethos for running any business. Isn’t it great when that kind of success story, that kind of dedication, stems out of our community, the one I've been so proud to represent?

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