Gym owner gets lifetime achievement award for work with disabled people and injured members of the armed forces

Owner of Joint Effort gym, Paul Sandford, has won a lifetime achievement award. He is pictured here

Owner of Joint Effort gym, Paul Sandford, has won a lifetime achievement award. He is pictured here personal training Dave Yarham. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A gym owner who has helped train dozens of people with physical and mental disabilities, including several injured members of the armed forces, has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Paul Sandford, 45, who lives in Dereham and owns Joint Effort Gym in Wells, where he does his work, described the accolade as the highlight of his 26-year career.

He said: 'I don't do this for personal rewards, but it is nice to be recognised.

'My main motivation is to help these guys, many of which put their lives on the line for us and I am just humbled all the time by the determination that I see from them and by the work they do.'

Mr Sandford's award is from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest sports medicine and exercise science organisation in the world.

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He trained with the ACSM at university in Birmingham between 1989 and 1993 and specialises in training people with physical and mental disabilities, including amputees.

Among the many who Mr Sandford has helped is Craig Richardson, 27, a former RAF Regiment senior aircraftman from Dereham who ran the London Marathon last year, despite losing half his right leg in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008.

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Mr Richardson said: 'Paul was a massive help to me and I don't think I would have been able to do it without him.

'He came to London with me and my family on the day of the marathon. That support really lifted me and it shows what sort of a guy he is.

'Paul does a lot of great work outside the spotlight that people don't know about so it's great to see him get this recognition.'

Mr Sandford, whose father was in the RAF, added; 'I'm very surprised to get the award. I was nominated by someone, and I have no idea who it was that put me forward.

'It's also strange to get a lifetime achievement award when I'm 45 but I've done this work for 26 years, which is a long time.'

The award comes at a time when millions of people throughout the country have been remembering the sacrifices of members of the armed forces on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

Mr Sandford held a Remembrance Sunday breakfast at his pub, The Railway Tavern, in Dereham and has been involved with several fund-raising activities for armed forces charities over the years.

He is now selling a calendar featuring staff and users of his Wells gym to raise money for Wells branch of the Royal British Legion and the Light Dragoons Colonel's Appeal, which supports members of the Swanton Morely-based army regiment, their families and the families of those killed in duty.

Copies will be sold during the Wells Christmas Tide event on December 14.

People can also order copies from Joint Effort on 01328 712163 and The Railway Tavern on 01362 288166.

Mr Sandford also helps people with disabilities from Dereham Day Centre

As well as in Wells, Mr Sandford has also previously done his work in gyms he used to run in Fakenham, Dereham and Swaffham.

Do you know anyone who is doing great work in your local community? E mail

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