Sign the petition! Award Eddie Hall the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent

You can now sign a petition backing the call for Stoke-on-Trent City Council to award the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent to World’s Strongest Man Eddie Hall. Back the petition!

Award Eddie Hall the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent

Interview with Shropshire Business

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The rise and rise of millionaire Mo



Eddie Hall deserves the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent

IT may not have escaped your attention that Eddie Hall is now officially the World’s Strongest Man. Across several nights over Christmas and New Year, millions saw Eddie in action on TV, battling for the title – his lifetime ambition – in Botswana.
Make no mistake, it is a remarkable achievement. It’s not long ago Eddie was working under trucks all day as a mechanic, trying to make his mark in the strongman world but inevitably not succeeding. How could he? Strongman is a professional sport. His main competitors were treating it as a full-time job. Their entire lives were regimented towards and organised around strongman. It was at the epicentre of their world. Eddie, even with his inbuilt talent and determination, was unable to compete against such sustained focus and effort.
I first laid eyes on Eddie at a corporate function at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium. The reaction to him was unreal. There were some serious sports stars in that room but eyes were only on one person.
I had never experienced a presence like that, ever. The physical size of this man was incredible – it was a truly jaw-dropping moment.
A few months later I was told by my management that Eddie had joined my M Club fitness centre. That gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to him, albeit it was in rather an unusual manner. I’m a stickler for detail and cleanliness with my businesses and was walking round the changing-room one day and there he was in the showers!
We got talking and it was clear to me even then that if he was going to succeed, there needed to be massive changes. We talked some more and the result was I began managing Eddie and sponsoring him. It allowed him to quit his job and concentrate full-time on his ambition. My own reward was to add a new and exciting focus to my business life. When it comes to spending time with Eddie Hall, I enjoy every moment.
And that is the whole point with Eddie. He is the ultimate gentle giant. Behind the strongman exterior is a true gent, a man hugely giving of his time, who enjoys helping people, will always talk to his fans, and whose sheer determination to reach the top is a huge inspiration to others.
When we look at North Staffordshire today, it’s hard to imagine who else in sporting or celebrity life has served as such a popular illustration of ambition realised. Who else, aside from Phil Taylor, has shown what it is to dream – and then make that dream a reality.
There is talk now of a reception staged by the leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council. However, I would go further and say that Eddie should be awarded a true local honour. For sure, if Eddie had been born in a different part of the country, he would be being awarded such accolades as freedom of the city. And yet here we stall at something rather more akin to a cup of tea and a sandwich.
Make no mistake, right now Eddie Hall is the biggest promoter of the North Staffordshire brand in the world. He exudes likeability. His autobiography has flown off the shelves. He has 1,300,000 followers on Facebook/social media . People worldwide suck up his every word. Put simply, he’s the largest (quite literally) and most successful global personality this city, and indeed, Newcastle-under-Lyme, from where he hails, has had in a long while.
Why not celebrate Eddie, and others like him, properly? It’s a question that needs answering. Otherwise we are failing both them and ourselves as a community.
Let’s make it happen. I’m urging Eddie’s followers across the world to push for his recognition on social media. Let’s not let another North Staffordshire great go unnoticed and under-celebrated.
This is the time to honour true brilliance, purpose, and ambition properly. It is the time for the area to say it treasures talent. It is the time for us to shout out about not just Eddie, but all the great individuals we have in our midst.
That shouting should start at the centre. For once, it shouldn’t be Eddie doing the hard work. It should be others pushing to give him, and others like him, what he deserves.


Teach our children to respect other cultures

Earlier than most people realise, children become aware of and intrigued by the difference in the way people look and behave.

Research has confirmed that children as young as six months old notice differences in race and family composition.

Now, as our nation grows increasingly diverse and our world is defined as a global community due to the digital age, it is vital that we learn to live respectfully together and benefit from one another’s wisdom and experiences.

However, sometimes fear and differences in race, culture and an alien language prevent people from talking to each other and moving forward together. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
I have recently returned from my first trip to India (my parents’ country of birth) and I was struck by the huge volume of mosques and heritage dating back from the Mughal Empire.

There was a strong Muslim influence. Yet in the midst of political upheaval, they were worshipping next to practising Hindus and Sikhs with no hostility and in-fact considerable mutual respect and tolerance.

Much-needed migration from the sub-continent to Britain happened a lifetime ago and we became a multi-cultural society. However, trepidation among the diverse communities should not still be prevalent four generations later.

While my generation is, at large, still struggling against a deep-rooted mentality that segregation is normal and acceptable, it is vital that we teach our children differently. They must be taught to open their minds to the different cultures in the UK and the world, to ensure a richer life and an altogether better world.

My thoughts come at a time when the Government is being urged to tackle segregation in UK schools. More than a quarter of all state primary schools across England and four-in-10 state secondary schools are ethnically segregated.

I, myself, grew up as a minority. In fact, I was the only Asian child at my first school in Luton.
However, I subsequently managed to get selected to a grammar school (and although still the only Asian pupil) I mixed with a whole host of different children from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Subconsciously, this had a positive impact and, rather than continuing with my parents’ mindset and thus a blinkered outlook, I was able to open my mind, learn from others and intensify my ambition to better myself. I became educated in the wider sense; it instilled a sense of confidence and a purpose that I could get along in this new and exciting world.

Schools play a vital role in building bridges between ethnic groups as it allows children to mix and learn from each other.

They are our best chance for inclusion and developing a sense of community and purpose. We know that contact between groups improves tolerance and breaks down prejudice – and will even contribute to tackling extremism.

All schools must promote social integration/cohesion and the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for different faiths and beliefs.
The responsibility, however, cannot solely lie with our academic institutions.

As parents, we all want what’s best for our children and, in today’s interconnected global world, one of the greatest gifts we can give them is to prepare them to thrive in the new world marketplace.

We must inspire our children to be curious about the world and to become globally aware. Not just for community cohesion but also for economic cohesion/progress.

We must teach our children to appreciate, communicate and interact with people across different cultures and in other countries.

Cultural exposure doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It needs to be incorporated into an individual’s lifestyle, mindset and belief system.

Make exposing your children to other cultures an aspect of everyday life; the rich excitement of new cultures, the smells and tastes of foods, the colours and drama of art, the shapes of stories, and rhythms of music.

These fulfilling sensory encounters teach children that the new and different can be wonderful and progressive, rather than scary and strange.

Realise the importance of placing yourself as a powerful role model.

Children become culturally sensitive and respectful when they see adults who are culturally sensitive and respectful, and who take a stand against bias, racism or insensitivity.

By taking a proactive role in enhancing your child’s cultural awareness, you can teach your child to understand and deal with the challenges of a changing world.

We need our children to grow – not be diminished, fearful and closed but valued, open-hearted and open-minded in a world where success comes as a result of ambition and a sense of purpose, regardless of ethnicity.
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