Houghton trainer honoured for keeping his brain as fit as his body

Michael Donkin with his award
Michael Donkin with his award

Personal trainer Michael Donkin has been honoured for his efforts to keep his brain as fit as his body.

Michael, from Houghton-le-Spring, was named ‘Self-Funded Learner of the Year’ at a national apprenticeship awards ceremony held at The London Dungeon.

It’s great to be recognised for continuing learning, especially having left school without GCSE’s

Michael Donkin

The 31-year-old, who runs Evolution Fitness in Newbottle Street, received the award as part of the sixth annual Lifetime Learner Achievement Awards.

Michael left school in 2002 without any GCSEs. He had always been interested in fitness and managed to gain work experience in a gym then researched training and found Lifetime courses suited to his then work as a lorry driver, so he could study as he travelled.

He completed his Personal Trainer Level 3 a year ago and has since set up two of his own fitness centres, has hired his first freelance instructor, has partnered with MIND to promote the benefits of exercise for mental as well as physical health, and been granted £9,000 of Lottery funding.

The awards day saw candidates from around the UK attend the event, which included a group VIP tour of the London Dungeons and the 443 ft London Eye, before concluding with the ceremony at which Michael received his trophy.

“I was shocked and surprised to have won,” he said.

“To be one of three finalists nationally was a massive achievement for me, but I never really expected to win the award.

“It’s great to be recognised for continuing learning, especially having left school without GCSEs. I would like to think that my story might inspire others who haven’t done great in school, to not give up.

“I was told I would pack straws in a factory when I was older.”

Sean Cosgrove, Head of Commercial Operations at Lifetime training, presented Michael’s award and praised him for going ‘above and beyond’ in using his learning and qualifications to help others.