A have-a-go hero from Swinton who was seriously injured when he tried to tackle a gang of yobs is now attending martial arts classes with his whole family to help rebuild their lives.
In April 2017, father-of-two, Mark Weatherburn, 30, was attacked and suffered a broken nose and eye socket after chasing three men who tried to set fire to his outside bin.
Now, Mark, his wife, their children and his dad, take part in family classes at Swinton’s Martial Arts Centre to learn self-defence if a similar situation occurred again.
He said: “I suffered with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) for many months after and still to this day find myself fighting them again and again in my mind.
“I still suffer from a numb cheek (on the inside of my mouth) and also dislike the new shape of my nose very much, it’s a constant reminder of what happened every time I look in the mirror.
“After the attack I was afraid to go out – just going to the shop around the corner I was nervous and sweating about it. It really knocked my confidence, so I decided to do some martial arts.
“I got beat up pretty badly. It was just outside my house in Kearsley at the time.
“There had been kids nicking bins and setting them on fire in the area, and after seeing two of them running off, I chased them and went around the corner and there was about 20 of them – all aged between 17 and 20.
“I was in the middle of it all – luckily it was only three of them I was fighting with.
“We ended up selling the house – I was down and depressed at the time and I just needed to do something to snap me out of it. I thought what better than a martial art. I’m introverted anyway but attending the classes has helped my confidence and I feel more comfortable when I’m out and about.”
Nobody was ever convicted of the assault because police could not find sufficient evidence.
Mark said: “The three lads were known to the police and I actually identified one of them however they were never prosecuted because there was not enough evidence to convict them.
“No CCTV or fingerprints. I never received any compensation nor justice.”
The Swinton centre holds five classes a week with a variety of types of martial art available to learn, such as karate, kickboxing or kung fu, whilst having benefits like weight loss, confidence and self-discipline.
It allows families to bond and that was what Mark wanted to do by signing up his wife, Danika, 32, two children, Layne, five, and Tahley, four, and father Don, 56, so they could all take part together.
Mark said: “It’s great for the kids because it’s helping with their discipline. They’re home-schooled – so they’ve got a lot of energy to burn off. For myself I’m a bit of fitness freak so I enjoy it.
“I’ve only been going for three months and it’s helped me so much. I want to see it through and get my black belt, and I want the kids to be the same and have a passion for it as well.
“I never want them to be in the situation I was in, so if they can defend themselves that would be brilliant.”
Wife, Danika, admitted she was reluctant to attend the class when Mark told her that he had signed the whole family up but says it has benefited everyone in the short time they have been there.
She said: “When Mark signed us all up as a family I burst into tears, I didn’t want to do it because I had no confidence, but now I’m so grateful and happy we have done it.
“For me, personally, I had a lot of post-natal depression after I had the kids, and it’s completely vanished from coming here.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence and it’s allowed me to bond with the kids a lot more and doing something together as a family.
“Mark’s dad used to do ju-jitsu, so it’s always been in the family, and it’s great for him as he wants to lose weight.”
Family Martial Arts centres have 29 centres across the North West, with 2,000 members overall. Families make up approximately 48 per cent, while the other 52 per cent forms of 22 per cent of children, 20 per cent of woman and ten per cent of men.
Peter Watt, Chief Instructor for Family Martial Arts Centres, said: “The Swinton centre has been around for 15 years now. We work on courage, courtesy, honesty, respect and discipline.
“We have a lot more families involved now than when we first started. Parents also bring their children just for them to do it and we’ve seen a big rise there too.”
The 47-year-old from Eccles, added: “A lot of the adults that join with their children join for health benefits. At the end of their working day, they come with their kids and join in, and find weight loss through it.”
For information on Family Martial Arts Centres or to sign up, click here.