Sunderland’s karate cop heads back to Sri Lanka

Eddie Gillespie in Sri Lanka

Eddie Gillespie in Sri Lanka

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KARATE cop Eddie Gillespie is jetting to the other side of the globe to help instil some high-kicking confidence.

The 42-year-old Sunderland police officer is heading to Sri Lanka in March to lead karate workshops.

Policeman Eddie Gillespie with members of Kazen Kai Northeast at Penshaw Community Centre.

Policeman Eddie Gillespie with members of Kazen Kai Northeast at Penshaw Community Centre.

It will be a return visit for the experienced karate instructor who first visited the country after the Asian tsunami of 2004.

When Eddie, who has a string of martial arts qualifications under his black belt, first visited the village of Seenigama he taught many children who had lost family members and homes in the Boxing Day tragedy.

Now he’s looking forward to seeing how their lives have progressed.

“People marry young over there so some of the young people I taught last time will have kids now,” he said.

Eddie Gillespie in Sri Lanka

Eddie Gillespie in Sri Lanka

“It’s great to see how much of a confidence boost martial arts can bring them.

“Last time I went it was like a war zone but a lot of the building work that was started then will be finished now.”

He added: “I was asked to do a return trip and it’s something I’ve been promising for years so I felt the time was right now.

“Although the big cities in Sri Lanka are like big cities elsewhere in the world, the village we are going to is very rural and they don’t have access to karate classes.”

Eddie will be helping with an intense fortnight of karate training in which those who are good enough will receive a karate grade.

“The people over there are so inspirational,” he said. “Despite what they’ve gone through they don’t give up. Their work ethic is phenomenal and the same applies to their karate training. They put their all into it.”

In the past, Eddie, of Herrington Burn, has passed on his skills to help street children living in Brazil.

Whereas, closer to home, he leads weekly karate classes in Penshaw Community Centre and other venues across the city.

He said: “Going to Sri Lanka is also a great way of integrating different cultures.

“They don’t get a lot of English visitors over there compared to other countries, but this is a way we can learn about each other’s culture.”

Twitter: @sunechokaty