Simon Roberts - Bio
My Livingwell Taekwondo career started when the club was created 21 years ago when I was 13 years old. However I had been training under Master Derek Sumner at a previous club from the tender age of 4 years old. My time at Livingwell Taekwondo has been full of hard, intense, exciting and amazing times. Master Derek really supported me the whole way through day to day training, gradings and competitions. He is someone I have looked up to since day one. During my time at Livingwell Derek pushed me to be the best I could be and as a result of his sometimes relentless training style I achieved the amazing goal of passing my 1st Dan grading and being awarded my black belt at the age of 15. This was one of the best moments of my life. Shortly after I was awarded my Black belt our club was given an amazing opportunity to visit an amazing country. Sri Lanka. We had the opportunity to travel there and train with a martial arts club in the south of the country and this was something that none of us could say no to. Master Derek chose a select group of 6 club members to go on this trip. We were told that the club we would train with in Sri Lanka trained in a old run down hall with no real training aids,, no protective equipment and no air conditioning. So with this in mind Master Derek said " if we have equipment then so will they". And with no hesitation we started raising funds and asking all members of the Livingwell family to help us in supplying uniform, protective equipment and training aids to this club that was welcoming us to visit their country and train with them. The entire experience was inspiring and one I will never forget. Since our first trip to Sri Lanka over 100 students from our club have been out there training hard and helping the local community. This way of living is one of the many core values that we as a family have.
My next challenge was my 2nd Dan black belt and that was all that was on my mind. Unfortunately at the age of 17 due to work commitments I was unable to continue my training and I had a break from taekwondo until I was 21. At this time I began training again back with Master Derek and the Livingwell family. Training and times were good.
In 2010 my life changed forever. My amazing beautiful little boy Lucas was born. Like every new parent I have ever spoken to this was the greatest moment of my life. My own little version of me. However this was not as sweet as it may have been and nothing would ever prepare me or my family for the uphill battle we were about to endure.
Lucas was born with a rare condition which resulted in him being born with his intestines on the outside of his body. At the time the doctors gave little hope of him surviving his first week. But he defied expectations, fighting through a series of serious and invasive operations and is now living a ‘happy, normal" life. During this time I stopped training as without question I had to prioritise the care of my son.
Lucas is now nine years old and recently joined me in training at Livingwell Taekwondo and I could not be more proud of him. During the six months he was in hospital, as a family we were able to be by his side day and night with the help of the Ronald McDonald House in Camberwell. They were very kind to us and offered us a room in the house to stay due to us living so far away from the hospital. Their amazing generosity meant that no matter what, we could be by his side every step of the way. What they did for us and everyone who stays with them is to create a home away from home atmosphere which is simply incredible. What the staff do without knowing it, is also give amazing emotional support and advice for anyone going through such a difficult time. The staff and the charity truly are modern day saints. I truly hope that anyone reading this will never have to go through a situation like my family did, but if you ever do I know that the Ronald McDonald House Charity will be there by your side. As a club and family we have always helped people and causes close to our hearts and when I asked Master Derek if we could do a fundraising event the answer was an instant “yes we are family”. On Saturday the 15th of June 2019 I set myself the challenge to break 50 4 inch concrete blocks with my hands in 15 minutes so we could raise as much money as we possible in order to give something back to the charity that helped us and others so much. I managed to break 45 blocks in just under 4 minutes and we raised over £1000. Which was outstanding.
In the weeks prior to the fundraising event I had lots of contact with the charity and they were so happy that we planned on doing an event in aid of the charity and gave us lots of support. We were sent t-shirts, stickers, flyers and all sorts to help us raise money on the day which was fantastic.
My life in Taekwondo has taught me so many things and helped me incredibly. As a child it boosted my confidence, taught me respect and how to never give up. Already it is teaching my son the same. In the short time he has been part of the Livingwell Family he has grown in confidence and like me on not giving up.
Livingwell Taekwondo to me is not just a part of my life, it’s a part of my family. This is how it has always been and always will be.
We are Livingwell, we are Family.