What have martial arts, health, fitness, fun and hundreds of kids got in common?

The answer is Ralph Presgrave – the latest recipient of Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s Teesside Hero Award.

Ralph, a 38-year-old dad from Thornaby, founded and runs Submit 2 Success, a programme which uses the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to inspire kids to stay fit, healthy, active, off the streets and away from negative influences.

He set up the Thornaby club after taking redundancy from his job as a youth worker and used some of his funds to buy the mats and equipment needed to get it going.

Since then hundreds of young people have been involved in its various free projects – which include Bullyproof, a programme of workshops teaching rules of engagement and practical self defence.

“It came as a complete surprise,” said Ralph, who was presented with his Teesside Hero Award award by Endeavour Partnership’s Lee Bramley, the chair of trustees at Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.

“This is recognition that you have done something good which is nice to have, although when I set the project up I didn’t do it with recognition in mind.

“I used the sport that I love and it has been great to see something like this develop from it.”

Ralph’s nomination cited his tireless efforts to provide an alternative youth provision using the sport of BJJ.

“Ralph’s amazing volunteer efforts in his own spare-time – whilst working full-time too – would make him a fitting winner of a Teesside Hero Award, as he has gone out of his way for nearly 10 years to improve the lives of young people from some of Teesside’s most deprived wards, giving them confidence, discipline, self-control, raising their aspirations and increasing their fitness levels,” it read.

The Teesside Hero Award includes a £1,000 grant – £500 of which Ralph intends to put back into Submit 2 Success and £500 for the Middlesbrough branch of mental health charity Mind.

The extra funds will enable Ralph to run more of the 10-week Bullyproof programmes but he also aims to ask the project’s committee – made up of young people – what they would like to see it spent on.