PATRICIA Gibson MP presented registered blind self defence instructor Michael McAllister with a top martial arts award at the Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan this week.

Patricia had popped into The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety’s charity training centre to watch Michael teach his weekly personal safety/self defence class for people with low or no vision.

She then surprised him by announcing that he had won the Martial Arts Illustrated Hall of Fame Student Award.

Michael began training in personal safety skills with the charity early last year and passed his instructor exams in September 2016.

Since then, he has been working on producing a video of his self defence techniques and has been teaching classes at the centre every Thursday since April of this year.

News of Michael’s success with his classes for the visually impaired and his transformation from a stay at home person to an outgoing teacher reached the ears of the UK’s best selling martial arts magazine, Martial Arts Illustrated.

Michael was nominated for their Hall of Fame Student Award which he then won.

Michael said: “I am completely stunned and over the moon to have received this award. It seems only a short time ago that I was scared to walk alone at night.

“Being visually impaired turned me into a bit of a recluse and on a social level, I felt limited and emasculated by my disability.

“Now I walk tall, move with confidence and know that I can handle any aggressor should I be confronted.

“Only last week I was on the train from Ardrossan to Glasgow and a group of youths started calling me names and throwing papers at me because I am blind.

“Before I would have been reduced to tears but now I can control my anxiety and fear and remain calm, using my voice to ask them to leave me alone.”

Alan Bell, Executive Manager and Principal Trainer of The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, commented: “To get a Student Award is very prestigious and a great honour, not only for Michael but for myself as his instructor.

“It’s a proud day for all of us and I am delighted that our local MP, Patricia Gibson could come along to present Michael with his award.”

MP Patricia added: “I was delighted to present Michael with his award.

“This is a very well-deserved and significant achievement and his personal story is truly inspirational.

“I heard first-hand from the students the transformational effect these classes were having on their lives.

“Clearly The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety is a huge asset to our community.”