A dedicated Ellesmere Port man, said to be a shining star in the community, has received a national honour after battling back to health from a critical illness.
Anthony Paul Holding, known as Paul, who has dedicated more than three decades to running an inclusive Aikido club in the town, has been given a British Citizen Award for his services to the community.
The awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015 to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.
Paul, aged 61, established the EPIC Aikido Club in Ellesmere Port in 1983 and has run it on a non profit basis ever since.
Through the club he has guided and supported countless children and adults regardless of their race, religion, age and ability even developing a class especially dedicated those with learning difficulties, both physical and neurological.
A 5th Dan, Paul has been practicing the sport for more than 47 years and some of his students have gone on to compete at a national level and also join the GB British team.
Monthly club proceeds collected from membership fees go into paying for the room hire and at times Paul has covered the shortfall personally.
He has not increased the club fees for many years to ensure people can afford to attend and has made concessions for those who have found it difficult to meet the fees to ensure they could still take part.
People who join the club remain friends for life, regardless of whether or not they currently train at the club, thanks to Paul’s nature. He has gone out of his way on several occasions for club members giving driving lessons and helping them study towards exams.
Paul’s passion for the sport also saw him and his club members help coach at another Aikido club in Whiston near St Helens. He is also heavily involved in the British Aikido Association where he has been awarded a ‘Fellowship’ for his dedication to the sport.
Sadly Paul, who works for Wirral Council, was seriously ill last year and almost lost his life several times. He suffered two heart attacks and went on to have a stroke during a heart operation which left him with limited movement in his left arm and leg.
He then had to have more major surgery a few days before Christmas Day to have his bowel removed after having internal bleeding.
But his determination to get back to the club that he loves drove his recovery to the point that not only can he walk again but he is back teaching at the club.
Paul is one of 30 medallists who will be honoured at a prestigious ceremony on July 6 at the Palace of Westminster. Each will receive a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’.
Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.
Speaking about his nomination, Paul said: “I’m a little gobsmacked about the award. I don’t do what I do for recognition, it’s really not me, but I do it because it’s a pleasure.
“Getting back to teaching has been a bit difficult after my ill health but I’m starting to find a way to do it carefully.”
Paul was nominated for a BCA by his daughter, Emma Tomlinson, who said: “My dad’s dedication, even when critically ill in his hospital bed, is unprecedented. Even when he was in a very bad state, his first thoughts were for others, making sure they were all ok.
“He is unaware of the effect his generous nature has on others. His inspirational character has encouraged others to grow to their confidence and achieve goals they never thought possible.
“He is a true inspiration and a real shining star in the community.”