South Shields hospital staff win host of strongman titles after beach weightlifting classes during covid

Hospital workers have proved their muscle taking home a host of strongman titles after turning to weightlifting classes during the pandemic.

With gyms closed due to covid restrictions, Chris Hetherington, a porter at South Tyneside District Hospital, set up socially distanced dawn weightlifting classes on Sandhaven Beach when restrictions easing meant people could meet in groups to exercise again.

Now members of the ‘South Shields Stone Lifters’, who all work for the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, have seen their efforts pay-off, winning series of successes at Wolsingham Show at the weekend.

In the over 100kg novice category, porter Michael Scott took first place, endoscopy technician Bradley Wall took second and porter Stuart Robertson took third as they made their first venture into competing.

outh Shields Stone Lifters members Stuart Robertson, Bradley Wall, Michael Scott, Anthony Higgins pictured during one of their beach training sessions


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The challenge at the Weardale event was hosted by Elite Strongman Promotions and comprised of five challenging events, a 90kg overhead log press; a 100kg in each hand farmer’s walk over 40 metres; six 14kg keg toss over 4 metres in height; 70kg stone-to-shoulder for reps and a back-to-back Tug of War.

Chris was on hand to lend his support alongside Bradley’s dad John Wall who is Head of Clinical Engineering, Medical Device Safety Officer and lead scientist at the Trust and also got involved in the training sessions.

John, who is a coach for Sunderland Ladies Rugby Team, said: “The gyms were still closed due to Covid. These are some big lads and were really struggling without their training.

“Chris organised the stone lifting sessions down at Sandhaven, so we were down there at 5am and there are some pretty big rocks down there to lift.


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Bradley Wall, Michael Scott, coach Chris Hetherington and Stuart Robertson celebrate their success at Wolsingham Show

“It has been such a big part of helping their mental health and it was fantastic of him to do it.

“We are phenomenally proud of them, it’s amazing what they have achieved at the weekend.

“It was great to go to the show and they were so proud to represent the NHS.”


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As it is the end of the season, the group are now looking to follow up their success and put the preparation ready to compete again.

Bradley Wall, clinical engineer Nathan Gibson and Michael Scott

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Bradley Wall competes in the keg toss section of the challenge


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Bradley Wall uses his strength to lift a log during one training meeting as Stuart Robertson looks on
Bradley Wall is put through his paces by coach Chris Hetherington
Bradley Wall lifts an atlas stone