SINGLE-handedly transforming a martial arts club from the brink of closure to one that averages 10 national champions per year is no mean feat.
But that is exactly what Tony Littlejohns has achieved since turning Ellesmere Port and Neston Tae Kwon-do Club into one of the most respected martial arts schools in the North West.
It all began on July 7, 1985 when he and a group of 50 novice students began training at Stanney Community Centre.
'I was a cabinet maker at the time and the guy I worked with asked me to come down to the community centre to train,' said Tony. 'From that day on I fell in love with the sport.'
Using the iconic figures of Bruce Lee and characters from the 1984 film The Karate Kid as his inspiration, the 39-year-old became hooked and began to train six times a week.
'I developed a passion for it,' said Tony. 'There was a great social side to the sport and people joined the club to get fit or compete.'
Tony's love affair with the sport drew him towards the competitive arena, and after making the decision to alter his aggressive style, he clinched both the English and Welsh titles three years running.
But as he began to enjoy success on a personal level Tony was faced with a dilemma in 1988 when the Ellesmere Port club was forced to the brink of closure.
With just three members remaining, he made a decision to take over.
It took Tony three-and-a-half years to earn his instructors' qualification and a year for him to gain his black belt.
'It was definitely worth it,' he added.
In 1995, Tony's hard work in keeping the club afloat paid off as his team took home 59 out 62 medal events at the North Staffordshire Championships.
But despite the success, he decided to turn professional that same year and made the tough decision to leave the club he had saved behind.
He said: 'It was an opportunity I couldn't turn down because it meant I could travel the world teaching while competing in the sport that I love.'
Following his stint abroad, Tony returned to officially re-open the Port club in 1997 and has steered it from strength to strength since, winning eight North Midland Area championship titles out of the last nine.
In October last year, Tony completed years of dedicated training when he gained his fifth Dan and his reputation in the sport has also seen him crowned national tae kwon-do instructor of the year in both 1997 and 2000.
During his 21-year association with martial arts, the veteran instructor has enjoyed some great moments and identifies coaching two champions as highlights.
He said: 'It is a great feeling when you instruct a champion.
'Karl Hare was a great talent and at just eight years old he became a British champion. He still trains with us now, from time to time.
'Cerys Shaw was my first world champion which is a massive achievement that has yet to be matched in any sport in the borough.'
With a group of talented youngsters under his wing, he is predicting further triumphs in the future.
'I've got a lot of good kids coming through and they are all keen and train really hard.
'We've got the Scottish Championships in September so hopefully we will nurture more champions in the future.'
* Ellesmere Port and Neston Tae Kwon-do Club train on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Castrol Sports and Social Club from 6-7.30pm (for children) and 7.30-9pm (for adults).
Tony also runs classes at Neston Recreation Centre on Thursdays at the same times and on Sundays from 5-6.30pm for children and 6.30-8pm for adults.