A YATE martial arts instructor is preparing to take his club to the World Championships in America, less than a year after battling cancer for the second time.
Black belt Paul Townsley is taking nine members of the Chipping Sodbury Tang Soo Do team aged between 13 and 52 to North Carolina this summer and expects their hard work to bring them home some silverware.
But the 52-year-old self-employed plumber, who is competing himself at the championships, has had his own struggle to reach the sport’s principal contest.
Having had the all-clear from testicular cancer three years ago, Mr Townsley then received the devastating news last year that he had a strain of stomach cancer.
“It has been a bit of a struggle,” said the modest Irishman who has lived in Yate since 1989. “I had to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that sort of knocks the stuffing out of you.
“It is only now that I am feeling okay. I haven’t been able to train properly since last year so I am not physically ready for the championships but I am not going to make up the numbers.”
He added: “It will be a bit of a sprint finish for me but I have 10 weeks and it gives me an incentive.
“As an instructor you have to lead from the front.”
Despite intense treatment, Mr Townsley, who was formerly in the Royal Navy, rarely missed a training session with the club at Chipping Sodbury School.
“Once you start Tang Soo Do it is like a marriage,” said Mr Townsley, whose sons previous Grand Champion William, 15, and 18-year-old Connor, and his wife Linda are all competing in America. “It is a real commitment, you have to be there and there are no excuses.
“Straight after the treatment there was a lot I couldn’t do to the sort of standard I should be so my son William demonstrated for me.
“I think doing a sport, especially a very disciplined one like Tang Soo Do, helped me recover from the cancer. It will probably get me in the end but at the moment I am free from it.”
He said the team of 10, which includes mums, boys and girls, are in with a good chance.
“We will be competing against about 1,000 people from 32 countries but they have worked really hard. It is no mean feat to get there and I will be very surprised if they don’t do well.”
Six-year Tang Soo Do veteran Beverley Sadier will be competing in America with her daughters Natasha, 15, and Lucia, 13.
“I was made to go by a friend as people were saying it was really good fun,” said the 38-year-old Yate mum. “We were both middle-aged woman but I thought it was brilliant and the exercise is great.
“It is quite a social sport and I enjoy the team aspect of it. But I never thought I would be competing in world championships at anything.”
The team needs to raise as much money as possible to fund the trip on July 16. They are holding a table top sale at Dodington Parish Hall, Finch Road, Chipping Sodbury on Saturday, June 28 (10am-4pm). Tables cost £10, to book email firstname.lastname@example.org