KARATE has been a huge part of Paul Barradell’s life for many years but it was just after Covid-19 that he decided to become a full-time coach.
With the help of a very supportive wife, he gave up his job working at a glassworks and threw himself into his new career.
“Covid had been tough on everyone but particularly children. The kids had been locked away on their computers and laid on their beds and I decided that I wanted to help get them active.
“And I absolutely love it – I took a risk and it was 100 per cent the right thing to do.”
Paul, who is a 3rd dan karate coach, runs his own club at Honeywell Sports Centre with daily classes.
John Tumman, who has nominated Paul for a Proud of Barnsley award in the Children’s Champion category, said: “Paul has trained with me for 20 years and has a great personality and very easy to approach, that’s why his club has grown and grown to a point he has over 100 students, with 90 per cent being children, in such a very short time.
“He puts on classes every evening Monday to Friday as well as throughout the holidays, with holiday camps, extra sessions in the afternoons to keep the kids busy and supports them at competitions and courses travelling all over the land.
“Nearly every weekend he’s out somewhere supporting his students.”
Paul, 55, of Carlton, doesn’t stop there, he also teaches karate to para students and strongly believes in the physical and mental benefits of the sport.
“Karate is about fitness but also about discipline and self-respect.
“I have had parents who bring their children along because they are struggling with confidence. Some of them didn’t even look at me for the first couple of classes and now are loving it and doing really well.
“And the holiday camps are going well too. They don’t focus on karate – I just ask them what they want to do. This week I had 22 kids for four hours playing football, hockey, basketball –they love it.”
But Paul’s new life doesn’t stop there he is also the safeguarding and attendance governor at Laithes Lane Primary School where he spends a lot of time volunteering, talking to the children and teaching karate in school.
“I love spending time at the school. I recently became attendance governor as well as my safeguarding responsibilities and I have been working with pupils and families to improve their attendance.
“There are some very sad stories and it’s rewarding to be able to help if I can.
“Recently, I have also taken on caretaker duties due to sickness and have been going in early every morning to open the gates. I just want to do what I can to help and enjoy being a part of it.”
He also works hard for the community and the town and in June he raised £3,500 by doing a sponsored karate punching and kicking marathon with his karate kids.
Half of the money raised went to local Barnsley charities and the other half went to the club to help students with kits and equipment.
On hearing about his nomination, Paul said: “I am very honoured but I really have had the best couple of years working with my children and para squad.”