Inspirational Kevin Stark,
who is part of the apprenticeship engineering team at The Bedford College Group, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2023 New Year Honours.
Kevin, aged 57, of Bedford, was recognised for his decades of service to karate training for primary school children and those with disabilities, which was especially valuable during and after lockdowns.
“The karate I teach is Shotokan Karate, in which I have trained for 40 years and from which I created a non-fighting martial art for primary age children in order to help with respect, self-esteem, physical and mental health. Classes are delivered as after school clubs and as part of the school holiday club provision.
“I developed an e-book for people so people could access karate remotely and to also allow the ‘remote’ grading of exams across countries from Australia to the USA
“During the pandemic I created a mindfulness e-book and board game to support primary age mental health, copies of which were sent out to Primary schools across Bedford.
“I encourage young people that are training in the clubs to take on responsibilities such as administrative work, assistant coaching, in order to help develop leadership skills and the self-confidence to step forward. These skills can then be put on their CV for future employment.
“We also have a number of young people joining the clubs as part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.
“I also do free sessions to the cubs, scouts, brownies, guides etc as a taster of something different and to show that karate and martial arts is fun and about mind and body, with the self-defence aspect as a by-product of the activity.
“I have worked to help disaffected youth by supporting them with improving their employability skills.
“At Bedford College in Bedford I now work with engineering apprentices and as an independent ‘End Point’ Assessor for a national organisation.”
Kevin is also a Director for a charity called EAGPA, that delivers training for careers guidance across East Africa.
In karate terms he is a 7th Dan working towards his 8th Dan. The Dan is a ranking system in martial arts and Kevin is at the most advanced senior level and reached the recognition of a Master.
Contact Kevin if you want further information on his karate work: www.atsk.co.uk