Bodybuilder Simon makes a bid for victory

Simon Burke, owner of Better Bodies by Simon Burke
Simon Burke, owner of Better Bodies by Simon Burke

A bodybuilding grandad from Wakefield will take to the stage at Castleford Civic Centre on Sunday for the north-east regional heat of Mr Britain.

Simon Burke, 38, who opened his own gym Better Bodies by Simon Burke in January on Flanshaw Lane, Wakefield, has been training hard and following a strict diet to maintain his physique.

Opening the gym earlier this year was a long held dream for Mr Burke who had a troubled childhood: his love of fitness helping him through the worst times.

He said: “I was in and out of care as a child and my mum died when I was 16.

“My mental health wasn’t great, I suffered from depression and I had a lot of counselling.

“It was suggested that I go to a gym to take my mind of everything I was going through so I joined one near to where I was living at the time in Horbury.

“I am not very tall and I was built like a twig but I put in a lot of hours and that was the start of my recovery.”

The father of five and grandad to three, entered his first bodybuilding competition in 2010 and came second.

The competition on Sunday will be the first he has taken part in since 2013 and he is confident he can take home the trophy in the Classic Class 3 category.

A win will qualify him to take part in the Mr Britain competition and then, if successful, Mr Universe.

Mr Burke added: “I was working for a car dealership in the body shop when I found out there was the chance to rent space in Chapel Rock gym in Flanshaw Lane.

“I had no equipment and no money just a determination that I wanted to do something to help other people who were going through some of the things that I had.

“Friends helped out by getting the gym ready and my partner Lorraine Heaton and I scraped every penny together we could to buy equipment.

“Lorraine has been my rock, if it hadn’t been for her support I don’t think any of this would have happened.”

Around 60 members of the gym will be there on Sunday to lend their support.

Mr Burke said: “I’d like to thank our members for their support and to encourage anyone to never give up on their dreams.”