High-kicking Helen is a Neighbourhood Hero
March 17, 2021
When Helen Heslop enrolled her two sons in a nearby karate club, little did she realise that twenty years later the martial art would be her passion and that she herself would be teaching it to local children.
Taking her sons Luke and Connor to classes she would sit watching from the sidelines and then realised that she wanted to join in too. Step forward to 2021 and Helen and her husband Tony are both black belt third dans and, along with two other instructors, run the Byakko Karate Club in Nelson Village.
Helen, 51 and a resident of Southfield Green, and Tony set up the club 5 years ago and have never looked back.
Her nomination as a Neighbourhood Hero has come from Andy Nicholson who says: “My son and daughter both attend the club and are close to gaining their black belts which is a direct result of Helen’s commitment and dedication to the sport. There is a strong community spirit in the club and I think that Helen deserves recognition for all her efforts which have continued through each lockdown and all the pandemic restrictions.”
When the restrictions began a year ago Helen created a series of training videos demonstrating various moves and katas enabling the youngsters to still receive weekly lessons. As the regulations changed the club held socially distanced training sessions at Alexandra Park, where Helen and the other instructors could observe the youngsters in person and they were able to progress with their training and grading schedules.
Lessons have had to adapt to changing circumstances – shorter time periods, less people meeting together, but now that (hopefully) this current lockdown will soon be over Helen is looking forward being able to meet outside from March 29 and back in Nelson Village from April 12.
Last year the club raised £100 on red nose day and this year they will still be donating to Comic Relief. Some extra treats are also being planned for Easter to welcome the youngsters back!
Helen says “Everyone starts to learn karate for different reasons – it could be to keep fit or to learn self-defence – and I love to see how it transforms the lives of the youngsters who train with us. It is amazing to see them develop, gain more self-confidence and enjoy being part of our karate family. Thank goodness I went to that first class with my boys 20 years ago.