“I have lived the struggle of poverty but didn’t give up”: formerly homeless man opens Lowestoft business
- Credit: Archant
Giles Barr-Thomson never gives up.
In 2011 he found himself trapped in the cycle of poverty - homeless with no way out.
But he was determined to fight back.
Now the 39-year-old from Gorleston has opened his first business, Ruckus MMA and Fitness Gym in Lowestoft's London Road North, a long-term dream years in the making.
'A lot of people are in a state where they're in no hope and they drown themselves in drugs and alcohol', said Mr Barr-Thomson, 'I was determined to provide for my family.'
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The father-of-six added: 'I have lived the struggle of poverty but didn't give up; I set my sights on a goal.'
Mr Barr-Thomson owns the mixed martial arts gym with his wife Kimberley, at the former site of Boundless Realms, and hopes the business will provide something new for the town.
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It features two floors of martial arts equipment, a boxing ring and an 18ft MMA cage.
He said: 'What I want to do is provide something for the local community. In Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft people say there is nothing on offer, nothing to do and there is a lot of poverty.'
'I want to offer tailor-made martial arts areas for instructors which cater for clients as well as students.'
A host of instructors teach everything from Jeet Kune Do and Kalah, to Zumba and Buggy Fit, at the new gym.
Mr Barr-Thomson added: 'I am nervous – it's scary but a lot of people have a belief in me.'
'Hopefully it will bring people into the town.
The new business owner, who has 13-year's kickboxing experience, believes the ability to defend yourself is now more important than ever.
He said: 'People are shocked by violence and want to brush it under the carpet. We don't want to shove it in people's faces about what can go wrong.
'But everyone should have the tools to protect themselves. Our instructors have real pedigree and teach how to deescalate a situation and look for an exit or how to defend yourself so you can walk away with your life.
'We want everyone who comes in to be safe in real life.'
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